CARBONDALE — The SIU football program added six mid-year additions for the 2018 season Tuesday, five FBS transfers and a junior college quarterback.
Cornerback Titus Booker (Wisconsin), cornerback Madre Harper (Oklahoma State), wide receiver Matt Quarells (Iowa), running back Nate Strong (Missouri), linebacker Jaylen Waters (Minnesota) and quarterback Stone Labanowitz of ASA (New York) Junior College are enrolled at SIU and will be with the team for spring practices. The Salukis lost two senior starting cornerbacks, Craig James and Roman Tatum, three of their top-seven tacklers and their second-leading receiver in terms of catches and yards (Connor Iwema).
Safety Ryan Neal and linebacker Kyron Watson, both seniors, were SIU's top tacklers in 2017. The Salukis went 4-7 overall and 2-6 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (tied for eighth place), losing their last four games after starting quarterback Sam Straub was lost for the season with a broken wrist.
Booker spent the last three seasons at Wisconsin, redshirting in 2015. As a redshirt freshman, Booker played in 14 games for the Badgers, recording six tackles. He was a four-star recruit coming out of Grayslake North High School and earned first-team all-state honors by the Illinois Football Coaches Association.
Harper comes to SIU after two years at Oklahoma State. Harper played for the Cowboys as a true freshman in 2016. Over two seasons, he played in seven games and made 10 tackles. He was a three-star recruit out of high school, and 247Sports.com listed him as the 47th-best cornerback in the nation.
Quarells played at New Mexico from 2014-16, redshirting in 2014. He graduated in three years and transferred to Iowa for the 2017 season, where he played in three games. At New Mexico, Quarells caught 13 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown.
Strong, a 6-foot, 210-pound junior, played at Hinds College as a freshman in 2015 and Missouri in 2016. The East St. Louis native left the Tigers right before the start of the 2017 season. At Mizzou, Strong ran for 137 yards on 32 carries. His season bests were 52 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns in a 17-point comeback win over Arkansas. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry on 15 attempts at Hinds.
Waters played in 23 games over two seasons at Minnesota after redshirting in 2015. He recorded 14 tackles and recovered one fumble. He was a three-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports and Scout. He was the No. 29 inside linebacker by ESPN and No. 48 by Scout, which also ranked him as the fifth-best middle linebacker prospect in Texas.
Labanowitz, a 5-11, 180-pound sophomore in 2018, played at ASA Junior College as a freshman in 2017. He threw for 2,275 yards and 23 touchdowns in for a 9-1 club. He completed 71.9 percent of his passes (166 for 231) and was named the offensive player of the year in the Northeast Conference. In a win over Erie College, Labanowitz went 26 of 35 for 495 yards and four touchdowns. Labanowitz joins senior Sam Straub, senior Matt DeSomer and redshirt freshman Brandon George in the quarterback room this season.