Saluki football acquires big class on National Signing Day

By Tyler Dixon

Head football coach Dale Lennon was able to get 28 players on National Signing Day.

Of the 28 players set to join the program, 14 were on the offensive side of the ball. Lennon said he has a lot of confidence in the roster, which attributes to the balance on offensive and defensive players coming in.

Lennon said his main goal was to recruit athletes.

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“The one thing that we were looking for in this recruiting class, if they were a multi-sport athlete, that was big,” Lennon said. “If they came from a successful program, that was very big.”

Freshman Ryan West was the starting quarterback by the end of last season after senior Korey Faulkner went down with a fractured finger. Three quarterbacks signed with the team on signing day. Mark Iannotti, from Eastern Michigan University, was the lone quarterback to transfer to SIU. Matt DeSomer and Sam Straub were the additional quarterbacks. DeSomer threw for 2,512 yards with had 35 touchdowns through the air during his senior season. He also ran for 1,607 yards and had 19 touchdowns on the ground.

The team will add some local flavor to the team next season with five players being less than 70 miles from home. Carbondale High School’s Shamarc Bursey and Paducah Tilghman High School’s Darrius Spivey-Nunn were the two local scholarship players for Lennon. Bursey will play wide receiver and Spivey-Nunn will be a defensive back.

Lennon let former Saluki quarterback and new quarterback coach, Nick Hill, deliver Bursey’s offer from SIU. Hill was Bursey’s head coach this past football season at Carbondale.

Spivey-Nunn could be an explosive player for SIU; he had 2,233 all-purpose yards last season and recorded 99 tackles.

Three players were preferred walk-ons. Lennon said these players were deserving of a scholarship but they were limited on the amount they could use.

“We think they can play at this level,” Lennon said.

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Carterville High School had two players fall into that category for Lennon.

Michael Aschemann played quarterback in high school, but will play wide receiver for the Salukis. Philip Frangello was the only running back to be signed for SIU. Marion High School’s Brant Hill played quarterback for the Wildcats, but will play wide receiver for the Salukis.

After Lennon discussed his signees, he introduced his three new assistant coaches.

Along with Hill being the quarterbacks’ coach, Todd Auer will be the new linebackers coach and David Elson is the new secondary coach.

Lennon said he and Hill have the same philosophy about quarterbacks, which will help them make their decision on who will be the starter.

Some of the players have ties to SIU and the NFL. Jaylon Graham, a linebacker from Eustis High School in Florida, is the nephew of former SIU defensive tackle Linton Brown. Ryan Neal, a safety from Merrillville High School in Indiana, has an older brother who is linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Neal has another brother who is a defensive tackle at the University of Idaho.

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