Seven Saluki Football Players Recognized For Already Earning Undergraduate Degrees

The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame released a list on Wednesday of 1,161 student-athletes who have already earned their undergraduate degrees and will be playing college football this fall while pursuing second diplomas. Seven players from Southern Illinois were on the list, which was the fifth-most among FCS programs.

The seven fifth-year seniors at SIU who have undergraduate degrees are fullback Jaylon Graham, safety Julian Hylton, wide receiver Darrell James, running back Jonathan Mixon, wide receiver Matt Quarells, quarterback Sam Straub and offensive tackle Bryce Wagner.

“I’m incredibly proud of the academic accomplishments of our student-athletes,” SIU head coach Nick Hill said. “These individuals demonstrate the value our program places upon personal development, and especially, earning a degree.”The NFF compiled the list with the help of athletics directors, faculty athletics representatives and sports information directors from all divisions who identified the players on their 2018 fall rosters who have already earned their undergraduate degrees. Northern Colorado led the FCS with 12 players on its roster with degrees, followed by Western Illinois (10), Wagner (9), Towson (8), Southern Illinois (7), Mercer (7) and North Carolina A&T State (7).

“The National Football Foundation takes great pride in its role as a leading voice in the promotion of the scholar-athlete,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “And highlighting the more than 1,100 student-athletes who have not only earned their undergraduate degrees but are now pursuing additional diplomas sends a powerful message about the doors that college football opens. This list allows us to showcase those individuals who have truly taken full advantage of the opportunities created by college football.”

Publishing a list of the graduates playing college football represents the latest addition to the NFF’s list of initiatives designed to promote the scholar-athlete ideal, dating back to 1959 and the launch of the highly prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards. The NFF has distributed more than $31 million in scholarships, including $11.3 million to 841 individuals via the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards and another $21 million through its nationwide Chapter Network.

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