CARBONDALE — The SIU football team returns eight of its top-10 linemen on each side of the ball next year, so don't expect a lot of heavies as part of the Salukis' early signing class.
The NCAA passed an early signing day for football earlier this year. SIU coach Nick Hill is scheduled to unveil at least a glimpse of his 2018 class this morning at a press conference at Tedrick Auditorium. Division I teams can only announce high school and junior college transfers today, with FBS transfers able to sign in February.
Hill has more than a dozen verbal commitments for next year's class, with only three of them on the offensive line. Jimmy Wormsley, a 6-foot-3, 296-pound lineman from Jacobs High School, was one of Hill's first commitments. Brett Groves (6-5, 305, Cary-Grove High School) and Beau Bramyan (6-5, 255, Decatur St. Teresa High School) also said they will sign with SIU.
The Salukis lose senior tackles Austin Olsen and DeVondre Seymour, but return backups Bryce Wagner and Ben Bailey at one of the toughest positions to recruit.
"We had young defensive linemen when we first got here. Each year we have to sign and develop offensive linemen so you're not looking for transfers at that level," Hill said. "That position is such a hard position to get as a transfer. Every team in the country is looking for an offensive tackle. We're still young, but I feel good about those redshirts. Ernest (Dye) can play tackle with his long arms and has played there before, and then Ben Bailey has started games at tackle for us. Spring ball is going to be a huge competition."
Three quarterbacks have committed to SIU, including Javon Williams of Centralia. Williams, who has over 11,000 career yards, rushed for 2,395 yards and 30 touchdowns and passed for 1,967 yards and 22 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The Orphans went 7-3 and reached the playoffs for the third straight season.
Austin Reed, a 6-2, 205-pound senior at St. Augustine (Florida) High School, and Nic Baker of Rochester have also committed to SIU. Reed took his squad to the state semifinals, while Baker led the Rockets to the last two Class 4A state championships.