May 23, 2012
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE,Ill. - Coach Dale Lennon released a new Saluki Football Two-Deep today that includes changes made after spring ball and the end of the spring semester.
Here are some observations, beginning at quarterback. Kory Faulkner solidified his status as the No. 1 QB during the spring. The good news at this position is that backup Paul McIntosh, whose recovery from surgery to his non-throwing shoulder had been slow, made sudden improvement a few weeks ago, according to Lennon. He injured the shoulder on a hit he sustained at Western Illinois on Oct. 1, 2011, and has not practiced since. McIntosh should be ready to compete by camp. The third-string quarterback will be A.J. Hill, younger brother of former Saluki Nick Hill, who transferred to SIU last year. Hill beat out redshirt freshman Matt Lipham for the No. 3 spot, and Lennon said Lipham will transfer.
The only player from last year who returns to the same spot is RG Jessy McMullin. Richard Wilson moves from LT to RT. Tanner Crum goes from LG to C. Junior college transfer Nate Haremza steps in at LG, while Clayton Melville takes over at RT. Guard Terrence Isaiah, who started two games last year, is not expected to play again after suffering neck and back injuries.
The coaches feel good about the receiving trio of David Lewis, John Lantz and LaSteven McKinney. They are all listed as starters. Their combined catch total was 52 last season, and Lennon expects that figure to make a big jump, based on the trio's production in the spring. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Lewis is a big, downfield target. Lantz is Mr. Reliable, who is adept at finding the open spot in a zone. McKinney had a break-out spring and flashed big-play ability in the open field.
SIU's three-man defensive front of ends Kenny Boatright and Eze Obiora, plus NT Kayon Swanson, should be a strength. There is a concern about depth at tackle, since Kezmond Myles is no longer with the team. Lennon said an FBS transfer at that spot is a distinct possibility.
The linebacking corps features fast and faster, with speed rushers Jayson DiManche and Cory Lee on the outside, plus bangers Joe Okon and Bryan Presume inside. Taylon Hunter made a lot of plays inside during the spring as well.
Terrell Wilson is an established starter at one cornerback slot, and Courtney Richmond has the advantage at the other. Former walk-on David Boatright had a strong spring at corner, also. The starting safeties are Luke Thuston and DJ Cameron, but Lennon said the team will be without Boo Rodgers and LaVarus Williams. Rodgers will redshirt in 2012, while Williams, who transferred from Central Michigan, has been unable to overcome knee problems.
Austin Pucylowksi returns as the punter and holder, while Jackson MacLachlan held on to his starting job as the team's kicker, thanks to improved leg strength.
The first game is just three months away, and now is a great time to stop by the ticket office and pick out your season tickets for Year Three at Saluki Stadium.
Associate head coach Tom Hankins has nearly completed the men's basketball non-conference slate. Still on the schedule are previously announced trips to SIUE, Saint Louis, Western Kentucky and Green Bay, plus the Mountain West Challenge home game against Fresno State.
As reported elsewhere, the Salukis have dropped out of the pre-Thanksgiving Charleston Classic. Instead, they will pick up three games by playing in a lower-profile tournament right before Christmas. Details should be announced soon. Hankins is also working on a new home-and-home series. Look for Southern to play a non-Division I opponent in the home opener.