National Signing Day, Feb. 2022: Southern Illinois Salukis

Head coach Nick Hill and his Southern Illinois staff added to the team’s depth on signing day by adding five players from the transfer portal. (Photo by

By Barry Bottino

Balancing a college football roster throughout the COVID-19 pandemic provided a major challenge to coaches across the country.

“It’s a constant process,” Southern Illinois head coach Nick Hill said. “The roster is changing more each year than it has in the past and you’ve got to keep up with that.”

So how did Hill and his coaching staff handle the challenge during the February signing day?

They added five players from the NCAA transfer portal and five from the high school ranks.

“There’s constant evaluation of where we want to be positionally and depth wise,” said Hill, who hailed the team’s mix of youth and veterans.

With the five transfers signed in February and the six signed in December, Hill said the goal is clear.

“The expectation is to come here and make an impact,” he said.

Former Central Michigan linebacker George Douglas, a February addition, was compared by HIll to recent Saluki middle linebacker Bryce Notree.

“We really feel like George will be a great asset,” Hill said.

The Salukis added one Illinois high school player in the latest class, offensive lineman Peyton Mazur of nearby Christopher.

Hill noted that Mazur has been a regular on campus, attending games, SIU camps and the team’s junior day.


“These (signing) days are just the culmination of a lot of hard work by our staff and time that’s put in to put together a signing class.” – Nick Hill, SIU head coach

What positions do they play?

Hill was able to spread the talent in this class across his roster, signing two defensive linemen, two linebackers, two offensive linemen and two wide receivers. He also added a defensive back and a running back.

Where are they from?

Two players each are from Michigan, Georgia and Florida. One Illinois player was included in the February group.

What accomplishments do they bring?

Colgate transfer Collin Heard, a defensive back, had five interceptions and 14 back breakups while playing in 34 games for the Patriot League program. … Linebacker George Douglas played in 44 games during his career at Central Michigan. … An Ohio native, defensive lineman Zaid Hamdan played three years and earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State before transferring to James Madison. He played in five games for the Dukes last season. … Running back Lashaun Lester is the all-time rushing leader at Chattooga High School in Georgia with 4,483 yards. He also holds the career rushing TDs mark at 52. … The only Illinois recruit in the group, Christopher HS offensive lineman Peyton Mazur played football, baseball, basketball and track and field as a prep athlete. He is 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds.

Full February recruit list (courtesy of

Name, Position, Height, Weight, Year, Previous School, Hometown

George Douglas, LB, 6-1, 222, R-Sr., Central Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Mich.

Zaid Hamdan, DL, 6-0, 261, R-Jr., James Madison University, Mason, Ohio

Javan Hawes, WR, 6-0, 200, R-Jr., Arkansas State, Atlanta, Ga.

Collin Heard, DB, 5-10, 170, R-Sr., Colgate University, West Bloomfield, Mich.

R.J. Orebo, DL, 6-7, 275, Jr., Texas A&M, Dayton, Tex.

Harris Hagan, OL, 6-7, 245, Fr., Evangelical Christian HS, Germantown, Tenn.

Desman Hearns, WR, 6-0, 188, Fr., Chamberlain HS, Tampa, Fla.

Lashaun Lester, RB, Fr., 5-10, 200, Chattooga HS, Summerville, Ga.

Petyon Mazur, OL, Fr., 6-5, 335, Christopher HS, Christopher, Ill.

Cory McCalip, LB, Fr., 6-3, 210, Bishop Kenny HS, Jacksonville, Fla.

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