Southern Illinois University Carbondale saw its streak of seven straight FCS playoff berths end in 2010, but Paducah Tilghman's Darrius Spivey-Nunn is hoping that he and the 2014 recruiting class can get the Salukis back in the postseason next year.
"This past season they finished tied for second with four other teams in the Missouri Valley Conference, and it's one of the toughest conferences in the nation," said Spivey-Nunn, whose national letter of intent was received by SIU at 9:39 a.m. Wednesday, making him an official member of the team. "They've been just a few plays away from making it big ,so I feel like with this upcoming class that we can provide the extra spark they need to make those key plays to get those necessary wins to take the Missouri Valley Conference championship."
And Spivey-Nunn knows what it's like to play a tough schedule after starting all four years at defensive back for the Blue Tornado and going to the playoffs in each season. Paducah Tilghman went 37-16, making it to the Class 3A semifinals twice and to the quarterfinals once.
"It think it helps a lot," the 6-foot-1, 185 pounder said. "The schedule we played proved that no matter what size you are that we had the ability to hang with any team. We weren't intimidated by anyone."
Spivey-Nunn made his impression felt while roaming the defensive backfield for Tilghman. In his four years as a starter he was in on 340 tackles, made eight interceptions, forced 14 fumbles and recovered one, and had 20 pass breakups.
He also totaled 2,233 all-purpose yards, including 101 catches for 1,185 yards and 12 touchdowns, 70 carries for 380 yards with seven scores, and seven punt returns for touchdowns. He also ran three years of track, was a member of the 2012 state championship track team and played two years of basketball.
"He impressed us right away," SIU coach Dale Lennon said. "We saw him run the 40, and we knew he was somebody we had to keep an eye on. He had an incredible career at Tilghman and put up some impressive numbers, so we think we have another kid there who has a lot of good football in front of him and has the type of talent that you want in the secondary."
When it comes down to it, Spivey-Nunn is excited that he'll be getting the opportunity to continue his football career.
"When I went down for my official visit they offered me before I left," he said. "Me and my parents (Belinda and Larry) talked about it.
"They asked me if I like any other schools and I told them I felt like this was the perfect fit for me. It's not too far from home and if I want to see family I can come back. Plus, I'm close enough to go see my little brother Gae'lon. So that made it perfect for me."
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow him on Twitter @bigdog_jamesd.