Daily Egyptian

Lennon excited about recruiting class

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

SIU’s 2015 football recruiting class was announced throughout Wednesday as National Signing Day for high school players took place around the country.

The Salukis announced signed players as their individual national letters of intent were cleared by compliance.

SIU’s recruiting class was named in full by 11 a.m. The recruiting class consists of 26 players, including 11 offensive players, 14 defensive players and one special teams player.

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In a previous interview, coach Dale Lennon said the points of emphasis for this recruiting class were the running back, linebacker and cornerback positions.

The Salukis lost 21 seniors to eligibility and graduation last season, including eight offensive, 10 defensive and three special teams players.

The signing began at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday and commenced at 10:57 a.m.

In a press conference the same day, Lennon said he was excited about his signing class.

“Today, Saluki football got stronger,” he said. “A lot of hard work went into this class.”

Running backs coach Larry Warner said the starters spot is open and he is looking for the freshmen to compete for the spot.

Warner said the team is depleted at the running back position. The few returning backs include sophomore Cameron Walter and three red-shirt freshmen.

Lennon said mid-year transfer Aaron Stanton is a running back who can be a strong contributor offensively and pick up the slack of what the team is losing in the position.

Warner, who played at SIU in 2007 and 2008, said Stanton reminds him a lot of himself.

“He can find a crease and take it to the house,” Warner said. “As a small guy, he is strong. He breaks tackles and has great balance.”

Warner said newly-signed running back Chris Perkins reminds him of former SIU player Malcolm Agnew because of his running style, football smarts and ability to make plays.

Lennon called running back Daquan Isom a special athlete, saying he would start at running back but is capable of playing many roles.

Warner said Isom is a guy you have to get the ball to.

“Whether he’s a slot receiver, kick returner, punt returner or running back, he’s a utility player,” he said.

Warner said running back Michael Nero has size and will be used in short run opportunities to get the first down.

“He’s a guy that every team needs,” Warner said. “He can go out there and get those tough yards, and we’re going to need him when we need power.”

Former SIU tight end MyCole Pruitt, the team’s most notable graduate of 2014, was known by tight end coach Keith Murphy for his catching ability. Lennon said tight end Jake Varble caught the coaches’ eye at a Saluki football camp as an athletic player who caught everything thrown at him.

Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Nick Hill said he started watching this year’s recruits as freshmen in high school while he was coaching high school in Orlando, Fla. He said he knew Tanner Hearn’s name throughout high school.

“We built a good relationship,” Hill said. “He really committed before his senior year and he had a lot of other opportunities.”

Hill said Hearn will have to compete, and his opportunity might not come for another year or two.

Locally, the Salukis signed Herrin High School kicker Josh Haynes.

“We’re excited to have [Haynes],” Lennon said. “He has a chance to be our kicker in the fall and he has a great future in front of him.”

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.

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