Meet Southern’s passing protege Sam Straub


Senior quarterback Sam Straub prepares to throw the football to the receiver, during Southern Illinois University’s first home game of the 2018 season, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (Allie Tiller | @allietiller_de)

By Adam Warfel, Sports Reporter

Senior quarterback Sam Straub has shown to be a dependable passer in his third year as quarterback for the Salukis.

Straub reigns from Chicago, but calls Ames, Iowa home.

“I moved when I was two years old to Ames, and I grew up there.” The senior said. “I moved because of my dad’s job.”


He is the oldest of his siblings with two younger sisters, one of which attends Ole Miss.

The Iowa native is the second member in his family to play college sports. His dad, Scott Straub, played college baseball in Michigan.

Straub began playing tackle football in fifth grade, first playing as a wide receiver.

He was a three-sport athlete at Ames High School playing football, baseball and basketball.

It was not until high school that the Iowa native found a niche in a sport.

“Probably going into junior year of high school,” Straub said on when football was for him.

Straub had success as the quarterback for Ames High School setting records in passing completions, yards and touchdowns.


The senior credits his high school coaches and other resources for teaching him game basics.

“People helped me out with learning, and teaching me my fundamentals,” Straub said

The quarterback received several scholarship offers coming out of high school.

“I had offers from South Dakota State and Missouri State,” Straub said. “South Dakota State was my first offer.”

Straub said he also considered trying out as a walk-on at Michigan State or Iowa.

Straub liked the area of southern Illinois as well as the coaching staff.

“The homey feel, I liked the community,” Straub said. “The coaching staff at the time was different, but I was a big fan of the coaching staff.”

When he first came to play in 2014 at SIU, the senior chose to redshirt due to the fact that there were some other players ahead of him and it gave him time to grow as a player.

In 2015 he played in one game against Missouri State.

“It was in the fourth quarter,” Straub said. “I was still extremely nervous, obviously something I will never forget.”

In his 2016 sophomore season, the first with Nick Hill as head coach, he played in five games and started the final three.

He was comfortable starting even as a sophomore as he threw for a 57.9 percent completion rating, 1,155 yards and seven touchdowns.

“I felt I could have played at anytime that year,” Straub said. “I had a lot of support from the team.”

After starting three games his sophomore year, Straub looked to improve in every aspect of his game going into his junior year and continuing on the success he had in his 2016 season.

Straub started the first eight games of his Junior year leading the Salukis to a four and four record before sustaining an injury to his throwing hand during the game against South Dakota.

”It was a third and four,” Straub said. “I was running to my right in the pocket trying to find someone to throw to, and after the play ended I landed on my right wrist.”

He broke his scaphoid bone in his hand, which requires healing time and pins to fix.

“Maybe not the pin, but I still do feel it a little bit,” Straub said. “If I take a hit in the game and maybe land on it in that same spot it doesn’t feel very good.”

The quarterback said the injury put into perspective how much each game matters to him as a player now as he reflected on this season starting this year.

Three games into the 2018 season it does not look as if the injury has prevented Straub from putting up solid numbers.

In the Murray State game, Straub had 16 completions on 29 attempts throwing for 107-yards and one interception.

He continued to put on a solid passing game at Ole Miss, his sister’s school of choice, having 29 completions on 47 attempts throwing two interceptions and 382-yards.

Getting the opportunity to play at an SEC school and see all of his family at that game was a surreal moment for Straub, one that he would not forget for quite a while.

“It was awesome,” Straub said. “It was a really cool opportunity for my family to get together and tailgate in the Grove.”

In the most recent game against Southeast Missouri State Straub had 27 completions on 43 attempts passing for 338-yards, while having three interceptions.

After the SEMO game, head coach Nick Hill expressed his confidence in his quarterback.

“On the first two picks, I didn’t have much to say to [Sam],” Hill said. “Sam went to the right guy.”

Hill credited the fact that Straub placed the throws where they were intended to be.

The senior credits Hill as one of three coaches at Southern that has made him the player and person he is today.

“Coach Hill has had my back through the thick and thin, the ups and the downs of the last five years he has been with me,” Straub said.

Straub also gave credit to John Van Dam, the Salukis offensive coordinator last season, as well as Meade Smith, the strength and conditioning coach as big influencers to him.

Straub and senior wide receiver Raphael Leonard established a connection in the offseason, which has benefited the team thus far.

“We work all the time at practice since I first got here basically,” Leonard said after the SEMO game. “The beginning of this season, we’ve been working on fade balls, and winning the one-on-one battles.”

Straub and Leonard have connected for 19 completions so far this year with a completion percentage of 54 percent and 264-yards of offense.

Prior to the first home game of the year, the senior wanted to recognize how important the fans are.

“We can’t wait to have you guys out, we need all your support, the more fans here the better we will be as a team,” Straub said.

The quarterback has lived in Carbondale for five years and enjoys being here.

“I have a house, it’s almost kind of like saying it’s my home,” Straub said. “It’ll be tough to leave when that time comes, it’s helped me grow up and become a man.”

Straub is currently in a master’s program after graduating with a bachelor’s degree this past spring in sports administration.

He is hoping to get the opportunity to play professional football, after that the Iowa native plans on looking into coaching.

Up next the senior will be in play against South Dakota for family weekend on Sept. 29. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Saluki Stadium.

Sports reporter Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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