The Southern Illinois Salukis are looking to get back to prominence in the FCS as they have not made the playoffs since winning the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2009. They might be able to do just that in 2016 after announcing the addition of four FBS transfers for the upcoming season.
The Salukis, who will be led by first-year head coach Nick Hill, added four players from the FBS level, including two from Power Five conference schools. Those four are wide receiver Deionte Gaines (Colorado State), cornerback CJ Jennings (Wyoming), running back Jarvis Leverett, Jr. (Kansas State) and wide receiver Ryan Sousa (Florida).
Sousa was a three-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class and took a redshirt that year. He played in just two games in 2015 and was likely going to be far down the depth chart this year, which led to his transfer.
Leverett spent four years with the Kansas State Wildcats, but he only played five games. He rushed for a career total of 67 yards on 20 carries, all of which came in 2014.
Surprisingly, the two transfers from the Group of Five schools might make bigger impacts for Southern Illinois this year. Jennings played in 10 games as a redshirt freshman for Wyoming last year, he recorded 18 tackles and was looking to be a starting cornerback for the Cowboys this year.
Gaines is easily the most-talented transfer for the Salukis after playing two years with the Rams. He recorded 112 yards and a touchdown receiving, while rushing for 138 yards and two scores in 2015. He also returned kickoffs and punts for the Rams the last two years. In 2014, his true freshman season, he led the Mountain West with 672 kick return yards.
The Salukis open the 2016 season on Sept. 3 on the road against FAU.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports