Head Coach Dale Lennon
Feb. 3, 2010
By Jason Clay
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois head football coach Dale Lennon unveiled his 2010 recruiting class Wednesday during a press conference in Lingle Hall. Lennon inked 21 players to National Letters of Intent as well as Jacob Souers, who signed a Grant-In-Aid with the Salukis and is enrolled in spring classes.
Lennon's recruiting class has student-athletes hailing from 10 different states and is spread evenly between the offensive (10) and defensive (10) sides of the ball with one punter. The Salukis signed three in-state prospects to National Letter's of Intent as well as three players out of the St. Louis area.
All but one of Wednesday's signees, Jessy McMullin, a 6-6, 289-pound offensive lineman from Iowa Western Community College, were from the high school ranks.
"My overall assessment of this year's recruiting class can be summed up as a group of high quality student-athletes who have the potential to contribute significantly to the future of Saluki football," Lennon said. "Our recruiting focus was on offensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs with a compliment of several key individuals who will fill some of our current needs due to graduation."
In addition to Wednesday's additions, the Salukis previously added running back Shariff Harris from Pittsburgh and defensive back T.J. Shine from Butler Community College on Jan. 27. Both players are enrolled in school this semester.
With the graduation of eight defensive starters from the 2009 Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship team, the Salukis had to reload. Southern Illinois signed four linebackers, four defensive backs and a pair of defensive ends.
Offensively, SIU is bringing in one quarterback, two receivers and two tight ends to go along with five offensive linemen and one running back. Punter Austin Pucylowski, from New Berlin, Wisc. (Catholic Memorial HS), will compete to sure up the Saluki punting game with the departure of Scott Ravanesi, SIU's all-time leader in punting average.
The in-state prospects to sign in the class include a pair of wide receivers, Mike Cornely (Wheeling/Buffalo Grove HS) and Mack Tracey (Lisle/Wheaton Warrenville South HS) and running back LaSteven McKinney ) (Broadview, Ill./Nazareth Academy.
McKinney was ranked as the 41st top prospect in the state of Illinois by Rivals.com and is a three-star prospect. Tracey, who was also used as a punter, led the Tigers to the Illinois 7A State Championship and Cornely caught 14 touchdown passes in his final two seasons with the Bison.
Carbondale native Kendell Edwards will join the team next fall as an invited walk-on and has already been admitted into school. As a senior at Carbondale High School, Edwards rushed for 1,769 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and scored 22 touchdowns. He garnered honorable mention all-state honors and was The Southern's Offensive Player of the Year in 2009.
Kerry Gibson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central HS) is the lone quarterback in the group and he was rated as the 13th-best prospect in the state of Missouri after leading his team to back-to-back state championships. He was 25-3 as a starter in his prep career and was the 2009 Missouri Class 6A Offensive Player of the Year.
Of the incoming linebacker corps, two are out of Alabama. Cory Lee (Prattville/Lions HS) and Taylon Hunter (Roanoke/Handley HS) were both all-state selections in 2010. Sal Belfonte (Kansas City, Mo./Rockhurst HS) was a two-time all-state linebacker and Jordan Poole (Mt. Juliet, Tenn./Wilson Central HS) was Tennessee's Region IX-AAA MVP on the defensive line, although he is projected as a linebacker for the Salukis.
On the defensive front, ends Blake Miller (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS) and Souers (Ocean Springs, Miss./Ocean Springs HS) bring a good combination of size and mobility.
Southern Illinois went with a familiar pedigree when looking at the secondary. Safety Boo Rodgers (Webb City, Mo./Webb City HS) is the younger brother of Marty Rodgers, an two-time all-conference safety for the Salukis.
In addition to Rodgers, SIU also brought in a trio of corners to the secondary. Courtney Richmond (Memphis, Tenn./Kirby HS) and Terrell Wilson (Dallas, Texas/Newman Smith HS) were also both used as kick returners in their prep careers. Tay Griffin is another (Auburn) Alabama prospect who helped Auburn High School to a 33-6 record during his prep career.
Southern Illinois beefed-up its offensive line with this recruiting class in the midst of losing three starters from season's team. Once again the Salukis went with a known lineage, as Corey Boemer (St. Louis, Mo./Lindbergh HS), a first cousin of 2009 second team All-MVC center Bryan Boemer, signed on with the Dawgs. Corey Boemer, a tackle, led the Flyers to a 10-1 record as a senior where he did not give up a single sack.
McMullin was a heavily recruited prospect after earning all-conference honors at IWCC and he will be expected to compete for a starting position on the line immediately.
Joining Boemer and McMullin in the trenches at SIU are Brad Fisher (Hartland, Wisc./Arrowhead HS), Riley Siniard (Huntsville, Ala./Huntsville HS) and Clayton Melville II (Camdenton, Mo./Camdenton HS). Fisher's Warhawks went 38-3 in his three seasons on their line with one state championship and a state runner-up.
The two incoming tight ends, John Weiss (Wayne, N.J./DePaul Catholic HS) and MyCole Pruitt (St. Louis, Mo./Kirkwood HS), both possess good size and athleticism. Weiss was a three-year starter who also played on the defensive line and was a long snapper while Pruitt had 30 receptions as a senior for 397 yards and six touchdowns in 2009.