Four Salukis Named to League All-Newcomer Team

Four Salukis Named to League All-Newcomer Team

Thirty-year-old head coach Nick Hill began a new era for Southern Illinois football. Perhaps a sign of things to come rests with the fact that four SIU players landed on the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team.

The Salukis honored by the MVFC are true freshman safety Jeremy Chinn, true freshman running back/return specialist D.J. Davis along with transfers Craig James at cornerback and Josh Straughan at quarterback.

According to an official SIU media release, Chinn missed the start of the season with an injury and returned in time to make an impact in conference play. Chinn was third in the MVFC in tackles per game and first in interceptions per game among freshmen. Overall, he ranked among the top-20 in the MVFC in tackles per game and third in interceptions per game. He was named MVFC Newcomer of the Week after recording seven tackles, an interception and a pass breakup in the win over South Dakota.

Davis was one of the most dynamic freshmen in the nation in 2016. He led the MVFC in kick return average by 2.5 yards per return and was fifth in the MVFC in all-purpose yards per game. He had a 98-yard kick return touchdown vs. Murray State, the second-longest kick return TD in the MVFC in 2016. He ranked second nationally among freshmen in kick return average and had the third-most kick return yards in SIU single-season history.

James, a transfer from Minnesota, started eight games at cornerback for the Salukis in 2016. He led the MVFC in passes defended per game and returned an interception for a touchdown vs. Missouri State. Along with Chinn, James led the team with three interceptions in 2016, the most for any SIU player since Mike McElroy had four picks in 2011. James had 30 tackles during his inaugural season in Carbondale, 24 of which were solo stops. He also had a tackle for loss and nine pass breakups while returning two punts during the season.

Straughan, a graduate transfer from Stillman College, ranked second in the MVFC in passing yards per game and was third in passing efficiency. He threw for 2,429 yards and 15 touchdowns in eight starts while only throwing four interceptions. He had two of the top seven passing games in the MVFC in 2016 (380 vs. South Dakota State and 367 at Florida Atlantic) and had four 300-yard games in eight starts. He ended his only season in a Saluki uniform ranked in the top-10 in SIU single-season history in passing yards (6th), completions (3rd), completion percentage (2nd), 250-yard games (2nd) and passing touchdowns (10th). Straughan helped the 2016 Salukis break a program record for passing completions, attempts and yards in a season.

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