Senior duo uses football to create lasting friendship

Senior duo uses football to create lasting friendship

By Terrance Peacock

Saturday marks the last time 17 seniors will sport their Saluki maroon and step onto the turf of Saluki Stadium to go into battle in front of the crazed fans who breathe Saluki football.

When two freshmen stepped on that field five years ago, neither knew they would have left such a lasting impact on not only the team, but on each other.

Quarterback Kory Faulkner and receiver John Lantz are fifth-year seniors on the SIU football team. Once this season rolled around, they were both already three-year starters and two of the leaders of the offensive unit.


The tandem had a feel for each other and it showed right out of the gate as the two combined for four catches, 99 yards and a touchdown the first game of the season against the University of Illinois.

It should be no surprise the chemistry the two have with each other. Not only are the two close friends, Faulkner and Lantz have also been roommates all five years of college.

“All the way from Thompson Point until now, we have been living together,” Lantz said.

The two did not know each other before attending SIU. Faulkner said he thinks the coaches assigned the two to live together to create a relationship on the football field.

“It was more so just random,” Faulkner said. “With me being the quarterback and John being a receiver, they maybe looked into it as ‘hey we want to build this relationship early when they get here so they can rely on each other.’ It’s been great ever since, I consider him one of my best friends.”

One reason the two clicked Lantz said is because the two have a lot in common.

“We do a lot of things outside of football,” Lantz said. “We like to play golf, mess around and hang out with all our other friends. (Faulkner) has a cool personality, he’s a funny kid and he’s fun to be around.”


Faulkner said the work ethic he noticed in Lantz during the first workout their freshmen year was enough to know that he was a person worth being around.

“I saw it from day one our first workout that this kid is here to work and he’s here to make a difference and be a great player,” Faulkner said. “Any time as a hard worker, you can see that from someone else, you instantly gain a respect for him.”

The hard work has paid off for both of them this season; each were having the best seasons of their career.

Although Lantz came into this season with no touchdown catches despite being a two-year starter, he has already caught five touchdowns this season, the most for a Saluki since 2008. He is also second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in receiving yards and third in the MVFC in receiving yards per game. Lantz set a career high Saturday with 139 receiving yards.

Faulkner’s season was cut short because of a fractured right index finger, but before the injury he was statistically one of the best quarterbacks in the conference.

Faulkner still leads the conference with 233.2 passing yards per game and is second in the conference with 258.4 total yards per game despite not playing in the Salukis’ last two games.

The phrase “Faulkner to Lantz” has been a fixture to the likes of Saluki play-by-play caller Mike Reis over the years, and Faulkner said knowing each other’s tendencies on and off the field is a big reason why.

“It was evident early in the season that I trusted him on the field,” Faulkner said. “I don’t think that just comes from football. We play basketball, golf, video games, so it’s just, ‘what would John do in this situation?’ We kind of figured each other out that way and on the football field it just carried over.”

Off the field, Faulkner said the two are like brothers.

“We both go to each other’s houses on family vacations,” Faulkner said. “Our parents bought me and John World Series tickets this year to go to the game in St. Louis so we made a lot of memories outside of football as well as in football. Building a relationship with John was probably one of the better memories I’ll have here at SIU.”

However, Lantz did say there is one thing Faulkner does at home that sometimes grinds his gears.

“He has a major snoring problem when he takes naps,” Lantz said. “We will all pass out on the chair and he’ll be passed out on the couch and he’ll always wake me up snoring. I’ll try to wake him up and tell him to go to his room or something.”

Faulkner said he does not think he snores as bad as Lantz says.

“I’m asleep so I can’t really stick up for myself,” Faulkner said. “He tends to over exaggerate that a little bit.”

The duo’s third roommate this year, former SIU golfer Jake Erickson, has known Lantz his entire life as the two grew up playing sports together. Erickson, who is now a graduate assistant in the athletic department, said while he already had a great relationship with Lantz, it didn’t take any time for the same to happen with Faulkner.

“Kory and John have lived together since they’ve been down here and I used to live with golf first, but I’m glad I got to live with them this year,” Erickson said. “I’ve known Kory for a long time now and he’s a good friend of mine too.”

Saturday’s home game against Illinois State University is senior day, where all the senior football team members will be acknowledged for all the dedication they put forth in making the SIU football team a winning program.

Lantz said it would be emotional knowing that football is almost over and the next stage of life is set to begin.

Faulkner said walking out on senior day, not being able to play, will be very hard for him.

“I was having a good year and I put everything I had into this,” Faulkner said. “I wanted to be the guy to lead us into the playoffs and that opportunity was there and this injury took that away from me. It’s going to be tough to walk out there knowing that I won’t finish my career with shoulder pads on or a helmet on, I’ll be on the sidelines.”

However, Faulkner said he would still be there for his team.

“Coming in with the (seniors) going through everything we did, I will definitely be there to support them and I’m excited to watch them play,” Faulkner said. “I’m their biggest fan.”