When veteran New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs goes barreling into the New England Patriots defense on Super Bowl Sunday, viewers around the world will likely hear that Jacobs completed his college career at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
The school is part of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), known previously as Division 1-AA. In other words, it is not a major college program. However, FCS players often make it to the NFL and, in fact, Jacobs may be joined in the NFL by another Salukis player in 2012. Southern Illinois-Carbondale senior center and graduate Bryan Boemer was awarded the 2011 Rimington Award this week as the FCS’ top center.
Boemer’s stellar career was marked by steady development and reliability. He avoided major injuries for four years; not an easy task for a lineman. He played 43 career games after being redshirted in 2007. At Vianney, Boemer was named first-team all-conference as an offensive tackle in his junior and senior seasons. He was first-team all-state after his senior campaign.
“When I think about my time at Vianney, I just think about the memories of playing with my best friends and how close I was with the coaches,” Boemer said. “I hear the basketball team is No. 1 right now.”
A legitimate NFL prospect at 6-foot-2 and 317 pounds, Boemer is the first player in SIUC history to claim the Rimington Award. In 2011, he did not allow a single sack and he helped anchor a rushing attack that averaged a robust 183 yards per game.
The award is named after University of Nebraska legend Dave Rimington, the only player to win the Outland Trophy (now called the Rimington Award at the FBS level) twice as the nation’s top interior linemen.
Boemer mentioned that he has met Jacobs, known for his fiery attitude, a couple of times, and “he is a much nicer guy than what you see on the field. Seeing him in the Super Bowl is great for our program.”
When asked for a Super Bowl prediction, Boemer said, “I think Eli and the Giants will squeeze it out by a touchdown. But all of my attention will be on the offensive lines.”
Besides Jacobs, other SIUC players in the NFL include New York Jets veteran linebacker Bart Scott, and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Deji Karim.
As for his top college football memories, Boemer noted two in particular.
“My sophomore year when we won at Northern Iowa during their homecoming in their Dome, and this year when we had the Blackout for Cancer game (45-28 win over Eastern Illinois). Northern Iowa is an incredibly tough place to play.”
The Salukis played at SEC (FBS) school University of Mississippi on Sept. 10, losing 42-24 in a very competitive game. Boemer said that “playing at Mississippi was an amazing atmosphere. It was incredible playing in front of 60,00 people. It really was like a dream.”
Boemer, a first-team FCS All-American in 2011, is now preparing himself for April’s NFL Draft.
“I was invited to the Pro Day at the University of Northwestern on March 8, and hopefully I’ll test well. I just hope to get a shot in the draft,” Boemer said.
“Every year players come from the FBS and get shots in the NFL, and many make the team or at least make the practice squad. That can lead to opportunities, and a lot of money.”
(Brian Doolittle has covered professional, college and high school sports nationally and around the St. Louis area for 17 years. He can be reached anytime at email@example.com)
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