For SIU safety Chinn, eyes of NFL are upon him

For SIU safety Chinn, eyes of NFL are upon him
SIU safety Jeremy Chinn was named last week as the top FCS target prospect for the Reese's Senior Bowl. (Photo by SIUSalukis.com)

Jim Nagy knows talent.

The executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, the biggest all-star game for top college talent, spent 18 years as an NFL scout. He has helped teams gather talent that took them to six Super Bowls.

So when Nagy speaks (or tweets), NFL teams listen.

On Aug. 29, before SIU’s season-opening loss at Southeast Missouri, Nagy tweeted a short video of  Southern Illinois strong safety Jeremy Chinn in pregame warmups with the message that the senior was the all-star game’s top FCS target to play in the showcase pro prospect event in Mobile, Ala.

Nagy noted that the top FCS talent they identified last year – and convinced to play in the game – was Delaware safety Nasir Adderley, who ended up as a second-round draft choice by the Los Angeles Chargers.

“This year, Saluki FS Jeremy Chinn is our guy,” Nagy’s tweet said.

With the experienced Chinn drawing plenty of attention, he has given SIU opponents plenty to fear.

“They got the right guy,” SIU head coach Nick Hill said of Nagy’s assessment of Chinn. “I think he’s deserving of that. He’s a fabulous player. When you see him walk by, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say, ‘That guy’s probably a pro football player.”

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Chinn will start his 28th career game today for SIU (0-1) against FBS UMass in Boston. It’s an opportunity for Chinn to show off his skills against a higher level of competition.

“He can line up in any of those games (on TV), like Oregon and Auburn, and you can say, ‘That guy is an NFL prospect,'” said Hill, whose practices have drawn plenty of pro scouts. “We’ve had just about every single NFL team through here already. The Senior Bowl has been here. More and more people are starting to find out about him.”

Last season, his nine pass breakups and three interceptions led the team during a season in which he was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection.

Hill said his star safety not only has NFL-level talent, but he is willing to accept any assignment – such as special teams – is a standout student with a 3.58 grade-point average in exercise science and is a consummate teammate.

“All that stuff matters,” Hill said. “That’s where you separate yourself, and Jeremy is A-plus. There’s no red flag with Jeremy Chinn.”

What does this game mean?

The Salukis (0-1) are looking for some good vibes before their home opener next weekend against Tennessee-Martin. A strong showing against an FBS program would do just that.

Remember when?

Nick Hill

Nick Hill

The last time SIU faced UMass was in the 2007 playoffs, when both teams were in the former Division I-AA (which became FCS). Hill was SIU’s starting quarterback in the 34-27 victory and passed for 216 yards and three touchdowns.

“It was a fun game to be a part of,” he said. “I remember getting off to a good start and hanging on in that game.”

The victory put the Salukis into the national semifinals, where they lost to now-NFL quarterback Joe Flacco and Delaware.

Did you know?

According to an Aug. 29 USA Today story, today’s game was set up in unique fashion. SIU originally was set to play Liberty, while UMass would face Maine. When Liberty and UMass hit scheduling issues, the teams decided to swap opponents, USA Today reported. Part of the agreement involved UMass paying SIU $25,000 to cover the Salukis’ travel costs to Boston for the game. … UMass opened the season 0-1 with a 48-21 loss to Rutgers of the Big Ten Conference. The Minutemen opened the game with 21 first-quarter points, but never scored again. … SIU is in a stretch of playing four of its first five games on the road to start the season. After a brief stop at home next week, the Salukis follow with road trips to Arkansas State and South Dakota State. … SIU senior running back D.J. Davis needs 204 rushing yards to become the 10th player in school history to reach 2,000 career yards. … Nine different players caught a pass last weekend from first-time starting quarterback Stone Labanowitz, the sophomore who connected on 16 of 28 throws for 217 yards. … While Chinn has drawn plenty of attention, free safety Qua Brown made lots of noise at SEMO. The junior had a career-high 16 tackles in the loss, including 12 solo stops, which makes him the national FCS leader in that category this week.

Where can I find the game?

The game will be streamed live at FloFootball.com, which requires a subscription. The SIU radio network is highlighted by Carbondale’s CIL-FM. Fans can listen live online at CILfm.com.

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