SIU football head coach Nick Hill cleaned up during the Salukis' December early signing period.
But I also was looking for who was going to show up for the opening of spring practice. This week, SIU Athletics announced the arrival of six top-notch transfers who will be eligible for April's signing period.
The six include two cornerbacks, one linebacker, one wide receiver, a quarterback and some much-needed help for Hill's team at the running back spot. Let's get to that area immediately.
Nate Strong is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound offensive back from the University of Missouri. Strong is a well traveled, four star-rated running back who ran for 1,612 yards and 18 touchdowns at East St. Louis High.
But out of high school, he did not qualify for entrance into MU, so he spent two years at Hinds Community College in Mississippi and finally went to Mizzou. He played a bit in 2016 but sat out in 2017 with an ankle injury.
In September, Strong decided to transfer to get more playing time, so SIU picked up a guy who can run inside and outside equally well with sub-4.5-second 40-yard speed.
SIU has been searching for a difference-maker at the running back spot to complement its usually great passing attack. If Strong sticks until fall and is healthy, he would be considered a strong no. 1 running back candidate.
The defensive side of the ball really got upgraded. As far as corners, 6-foot-2, 180-pound Madre Harper is the type of long defensive back that Hill has been longing for. Harper is transferring to Southern from Oklahoma State with two years of eligibility after playing one year for the Cowboys two years ago.
Harper has plenty of football speed and may even help out the Dawgs' track team as he ran a 48.1-second 400 meters at the high school level in Texas.
Joining Harper from the University of Wisconsin is 5-foot-11, 210-pound corner Titus Booker, a three-star high school player who was an Illinois All-Stater. Booker signed with the Badgers two years ago and will have two years of eligibility at SIU.
SIU lost its two starting 2017 corners, so these two guys will help immensely. SIU needs great cornerbacks to compete defensively in the pass-happy MVFC.
Another area that Hill was a bit worried about was the linebacker spot. Kyron Watson graduates this spring, so Hill needed another banger at linebacker to match starter Cody Crider.
I was overjoyed to see that 6-foot-3, 242-pound linebacker Jalen Waters will show up this spring, too. Waters will transfer in from University of Minnesota, where he played a lot of special teams minutes on the kick return defense for the Golden Gophers.
Waters has good speed for a man his size and will be in the middle in the Salukis' two-linebacker set. He has a nose for the ball and hits when he gets to the point of contact.
SIU's last two transfers are on the offensive side: quarterback Stone Labanowitz and wide receiver Matt Quarrels. Labanowitz is a slick quarterback from ASA JUCO located on the east coast, where he threw for more than 2,000 yards.
Quarrels (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) is a graduated (from New Mexico University) wideout who finished his BA at New Mexico in three years and will spend his last year of football eligibility at SIU near his home town of St. Louis (Hazelwood Central High). He has plenty of speed, having run a 22.1-second 200-meter dash at Hazelwood.