Eastern Illinois pash rusher Jordan Miles was named to the preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference team. (Photo by EIUPanthers.com)
By Dan Verdun
Chris Wilkerson is very familiar with where sophomore Jordan Miles is from. Of course, the first-year Eastern Illinois head coach also knows where he wants to see his defensive end reside — in the opposing offensive backfield.
“Jordan is from Indianapolis, my hometown. He’s come to Charleston and really flourished,” Wilkerson via a Zoom call from Tuesday’s Ohio Valley Conference media day. “One of our edge guys on our defense. We pride ourselves on being relentless on defense, and he epitomizes that.”
Miles, who prepped at Indianapolis Decatur Central High School, tied for the team lead in tackles for loss last fall with 11, which ranked first in the OVC. He also registered four total sacks, which tied for team lead and was fourth in the conference.
“He’s a guy that will chase the football, set the edge for us, rush the passer (and) create a lot of minus-yardage plays for us,” Wilkerson said.
A year after earning second team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors, Miles was named to this year’s preseason All-OVC defensive team.
“Most of the success just came from a team effort,” Miles said. “(I was in the) right place (at the) right time. Everything happens for a reason. That’s what I go by. It was just time and moment, and everything just played out how it was supposed to. I’m looking forward to doing my job again.”
Adding bulk to the middle
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, Miles may have even more help this season. Wilkerson’s staff has brought in 12 additional players — three of them defensive linemen via the transfer portal.
“We had a chance to add a few more pieces to our roster at the conclusion of spring practice and adding a little bit more of size in the middle of our defensive front will continue to allow us to stop the run and try to get the offense in predictable situations so we can cut our edge guys loose and get after the passer,” Wilkerson said.
Miles said, “You definitely feel their presence there on the field. It most definitely helps out (by) stopping the run game and not allowing the quarterback to escape up the middle or on the other end since we have (junior) Tim Varga there. It all just lines up perfectly for the defense.”
Coming off three consecutive one-win seasons (including the conference-only spring schedule of 2021), Miles has his sights set on upping the ante.
“Obviously we want to come out with a winning record this season, whether that is beating every team or just having one more win than a loss,” Miles said. “We’re just looking forward to trying to dominate as much as we can.
“As far as personal goals, I looking forward to getting more sacks, more TFLs (tackles for loss) than I had previously. It’s always one up in any area.”
And the preseason accolades?
“I don’t always see the news that much, but whenever somebody tells me I’m always astonished that it happened,” he said. “I’m just a head down and do my job type of person. Accolades are a side thing. I’m just looking forward to the team as a whole getting better (with) more players on the All-OVC (team). I’m more of a team person trying to get us to the next level.”
News & notes
Miles was joined on the preseason All-OVC team by six teammates. Varga, defensive backs Jordan Vincent and Russell Dandy along with receiver Isaiah Hill and tight end Jay Vallie were also selected. Linebacker Foday Jalloh, a junior transfer from Central Connecticut State, was named to the all-newcomer team . . . Jalloh was also recognized on the East-West Shrine Bowl 1000, which lists the approximately 1,000 all-star game eligible players that are drafted, signed after the draft, or attend a rookie mini-camp . . . The Ohio Valley Conference is celebrating its 75th year as a league . . . Lindenwood, formerly a Division II program, has joined the OVC. Lindenwood, EIU’s homecoming opponent, is a private university located in St. Charles, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis . . . In addition to the conference schedule, OVC schools will collaborate with the Southland Conference in a non-conference scheduling alliance for 2022 and 2023 . . . EIU was picked sixth in the preseason OVC poll.
1. UT Martin (10 first-place votes) – 70 points
2. Southeast Missouri (3) – 59
3. Murray State – 51
4. Tennessee State (1) – 46
5. Tennessee Tech – 29
6. Eastern Illinois – 20
7. Lindenwood – 19