Senior quarterback ready for final season

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

Saluki senior quarterback Mark Iannotti is entering his fifth and final season of college football, and he has finally found his rhythm. 

Iannotti said the consistency in the SIU coaching staff has allowed him to play more relaxed, as opposed to the frequent turnover in the program at Eastern Michigan, where he started his career.

“Now that I’m a senior, this is the first year that I’ve been with an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for more than a year,” Iannotti said. “The comfort level is through the roof, and that just brings the pressure down to nonexistent.”

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In his three years with the Eagles, Iannotti saw action in 12 games, throwing only one pass. In his first year at SIU, he threw 22 touchdown passes, tied for the third-highest single-season total in Saluki history.

Junior receiver Billy Reed said having a full season of experience with Iannotti has helped the chemistry between the quarterback and his targets.

SIU quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Nick Hill said he sees himself in Iannotti. Hill did not start a game at quarterback until his junior season, either.

Based on his own experience, Hill said he expects Iannotti to improve on last season. 

“There’s nothing that can get you game experience,” Hill said. “The speed of the game is different than even in practice  just to get the feel of it, you’ve got to make some mistakes and learn from them. You should be a lot better in year two.”

Turnovers led to Iannotti being pulled from the Salukis’ homecoming game against Indiana State and losing his starting job to then-sophomore Ryan West.

West transferred to Grand Valley State in the spring, meaning none of the other quarterbacks on SIU’s roster have taken a snap as a Saluki.

Iannotti said he feels responsible to help prepare transfer senior Matt McIntosh, redshirt freshmen Sam Straub and Matt DeSomer and true freshman Tanner Hearn to run the Salukis’ run-heavy quarterback scheme.

“We all want that starting spot, but there’s going to come a point in the season that we’re going to need all of us,” Iannotti said. “Being a leader, I’ve got to get all these guys ready to play.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @tdonleyDE.

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