When Southern Illinois takes the field in 2016, their roster will have a decidedly FBS look to it.
In a press release Monday, the FCS football program announced that it has added four former FBS players to the team. Those four are wide receiver Deionte Gaines (Colorado State), cornerback CJ Jennings (Wyoming), running back Jarvis Leverett, Jr. (Kansas State), and wide receiver Ryan Sousa (Florida).
All four of those players will be eligible to play in 2016. Jennings and Sousa will have three years of eligibility remaining; Gaines will have two; and Leverett one.
Originally a Florida State commit, Sousa was a three-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, rated by 247sports.com as the No. 67 receiver in the country and the No. 70 player at any position in the state of Florida. In addition to UF and FSU, Sousa also held offers from, among others, Arizona, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, UCLA and Wisconsin.
After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Sousa played in two games in 2015. The fact that Sousa was a depth-chart afterthought after two springs in Gainesville likely played a sizable role in the player’s decision to transfer last month.
Despite being at K-State the past four years, Leverett played in just five games for the Wildcats. He rushed for 67 yards on 20 carries, all of which came during the 2014 season.
As a redshirt freshman last season, Jennings played in 10 games. Exiting the spring, Jennings was one of the Cowboys’ starting corners before announcing his decision to transfer earlier this month.
Gaines started five of the 22 games in which he played the past two seasons prior to a mid-May decision to transfer from the Rams. He caught 22 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, and added another 153 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
As a true freshman in 2014, the 5-8, 180-pound Gaines led the Mountain West and was 20th in the FBS with 672 kick return yards on 28 returns (24.0 average).