Star runner likely lost for season

By Gus Bode

The Salukis worst fears were realized Monday when star running back Tom Koutsos underwent surgery on his injured right wrist and is likely lost for the season.

Koutsos, who owns every major school career rushing record, was injured on the second play from scrimmage in SIU’s 42-24 loss to Murray State Saturday night in Murray, Ky.

The senior from Oswego was driven to Murray-Calloway County Hospital, where X-rays confirmed his wrist was indeed broken.


He underwent surgery at St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Monday to have a plate inserted in his right wrist. The surgery was successful, and Koutsos was expected to remain in the hospital overnight before returning to Carbondale on Tuesday.

This was supposed to be a memorable season for Koutsos. He was named preseason All-American and All-Gateway Conference. Koutsos was also named to the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, which is the Division I-AA equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.

He also entered the season needing just 701 yards to become the conference’s all-time leading rusher. He now stands 485 yards short of the mark, which Koutsos has admitted he wants.

While this season appears lost, Koutsos’ Saluki career is not necessarily over. The SIU Athletic Department is planning on filing the necessary paperwork to get a fifth year for Koutsos.

Last season, senior tight end Ryan McAllister injured his knee in the third game and was out for the remainder of the season. He asked for and was granted a fifth year to return to the playing field for the Salukis this season.

McAllister said the loss of Koutsos should put extra pressure on every single player on the team to replace arguably the best offensive player SIU has ever had.

“Everybody’s now got to step up and make plays,” McAllister said. “With Tommy gone, that’s probably the worst thing that could have happened. Now everybody from me to the center, special teams, everybody, every aspect of the game’s got to pick it up.”


SIU head coach Jerry Kill, whose team was already one of the youngest in the country, must now adjust to losing not only senior leadership, but also emotional leadership.

“I talked to the team after the game and I told them you’ve got about as much adversity as you can possibly have,” Kill said. “And we probably had about as much as you could ever have in a first half of the football game with a bunch of 18 year olds, more 18 year olds than 22 year olds and I thought we handled ourselves pretty good.”

The Salukis first game without Koutsos is this Saturday when West Virginia Tech comes to McAndrew Stadium for a non-conference game at 7 p.m.

Reporter Jens Deju can be reached at [email protected]