Jeremy Chinn: The king swiper of safeties


Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE

Sophomore safety James Chinn, left, and sophomore safety James Ceasar, celebrate a touchback Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, during the Salukis’ 28-20 loss against the Youngstown State Penguins at Saluki Stadium. (Brian Mu–noz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Adam Warfel, Sports Reporter

Junior safety Jeremy Chinn has shown to be loyal on Southern’s defensive side of the ball since he arrived at SIU in 2016.

Chinn was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan but spent most of his life in the town of Fishers, Indiana, a northeast suburb of Indianapolis.

Chinn always wanted to play football and started playing in second grade, but he always longed to play the tackle version and not flag football.


“I couldn’t play tackle football,” Chinn said. “I didn’t want to play flag football, but I eventually signed up for [flag football] in second grade.”

Even as a young player the safety had success in third grade as his team went undefeated.

As a running back, he was a contributor to the team’s success.

“[I] scored 40 touchdowns that year, seven in one game,” Chinn said.

Even though Chinn has shown to be successful as a safety in college, in high school he played mainly on the offensive side of the ball.

“I played [cornerback] in high school,” Chinn said. “Really running back was my primary position.”

In high school Chinn said he enjoyed playing in front of a full stadium in the rivalry games.


“Playing our rivalry school, Hamilton Southeastern, every time we played them there were about 10,000 people at a high school game,” Chinn said.

Even though Chinn had success as a running back in high school averaging almost seven yards per carry with 101 carries, he came to Carbondale as a cornerback.

“It’s where they placed me,” Chinn said. “They offered me for cornerback when I got here so I just stuck to defense.”

Colgate University in New York, along with North Dakota University and SIU were three schools offering scholarships to Chinn.

“I was committed to North Dakota before I committed here and [Marty Rodgers] was the cornerback’s coach [at North Dakota],” Chinn said. 

Safety’s coach Marty Rodgers arrived at SIU in 2016 but saw a part of who Chinn was in the recruiting process for him at North Dakota.

“Getting to know him throughout the recruiting process and the things you heard about him, you know he was going to be a competitor,” Rodgers said.

As soon as Chinn arrived on campus in 2016, the Salukis converted him from cornerback to safety, because of the mental approach he took on defense.

”He does a great job communicating and just being that guy there for us,” Rodgers said.

Chinn described the approach and change he had to make as a player with the transition from cornerback to safety.

“That whole summer I started working on safety,” Chinn said. “It was kind of natural with cornerbacks having quick feet and good hands.”

Rodgers was one of the men responsible for helping Chinn convert from the cornerback position to safety.

Chinn said Rodgers is one of the men that has pushed him as a person and player to be the best he can be in every aspect of life as a student athlete.

“His demand for excellence on and off the field and in the classroom, he holds me accountable,” Chinn said.

Sophomore outside linebacker, Bryce Notree, came into Carbondale in the same class of players as Chinn and said Chinn has had an impact on him as a player.

“He was one of those guys you wanted to be around,” Notree said. “Being around him you know you have to make the right decisions on and off the field.”

In his freshman year here at Southern the junior safety played in eight games and started the final six after suffering an injury to his shoulder.

“I dislocated my shoulder, and I tore my labrum,” Chinn said. “I also fractured part of my shoulder bone.”

Even after Chinn suffered the injury his freshman year he made sure to keep the same frame of mind as he returned back to the field.

“My mindset didn’t change,” Chinn said. “I thought why not me, why can’t it be me to overcome this situation.”

Notree said the way Chinn approaches a play during a game and the physical build of him as a “super soldier.”

“You look at him and think, this guy is built — he’s an athlete,” Notree said.

Chinn came back from an injury that season and started all six games, recording at least seven tackles in each game and getting interceptions against Illinois State, South Dakota State and Western Illinois.

The Western Illinois game for Chinn in his freshman year was one of his favorite collegiate memories.

“My freshman year rallying back at Western Illinois,” Chinn said. “Doing that for the seniors, I got an interception late in the game, that’s something I won’t ever forget.”

After coming off a successful freshman season for Chinn who ended that year with 51 tackles and three interceptions, his focus pushed to his sophomore year and second year as a safety.

“I got smarter, I knew the game more,” Chinn said. “I was faster, bigger and the game just came quicker.”

Chinn started in all 11 games of his sophomore campaign which resulted in 66 tackles, three interceptions and four forced fumbles and a 4-7 record for the Dawgs.

“There’s always room for improvement,” Chinn said. “We didn’t finish the season how we wanted to.”

Now into his third year starting as safety for Southern, many proclaim him as the leader of this young defense.

“He’s made a lot of plays, he’s a leader on and off the field,” Notree said. “A lot of people on the team want to follow Chinn and be just as he is.”

Chinn is a man who is vocal and defines the defense and there is a noticeable difference in the defense when he is on the field.

“He’s definitely one of our leaders,” Rodgers said. “We had a point in camp where he was out for a couple weeks, you can see the change when he’s out there.”

Chinn as the leader of the defense looked for Salukis to stop the big plays this year, and to be troublesome to the opposing offense.

“Be disruptive, take the ball away,” Chinn said. “Play smart and play hard and fast, you combine those three things to be disruptive.”

In the first game of this year the defense played well with four forced fumbles, two fumble returns and two interceptions.

Aside from the Murray State game the defense has struggled, but shown glimpses of turning it around.

The game against Youngstown State the defense held the Penguins to one touchdown and three field goals.

“Trust the process,” Chinn said. “We’re working every single day, we’re never going to give up.”

You can see Chinn, along with Notree and the rest of the Dawgs defense back in action in the homecoming game against Indiana State Oct. 20 at  2 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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