Edwardsville grad tabbed as one to watch by ESPN

News-DemocratJanuary 16, 2014 

University of Nebraska redshirt freshman defensive tackle and Edwardsville High School graduate Vincent Valentine was named one of five Big Ten Conference defensive players to watch in 2014 in an ESPN.com story this week.

Valentine had 21 tackles and one sack this season for the Cornhuskers (9-4), who beat Georgia 24-19 in the Gator Bowl. His top performance was a five-tackle game with one sack Nov. 29 against Iowa.

*University of New Mexico senior Ben Skaer (Waterloo) was eighth in the nation among punters this season, averaging a school single-season record 45.8 yards on 47 punts. The All-Mountain West Conference performer's longest punt was 61 yards and he had 19 punts of 50 yards or longer.

* Former O'Fallon standout Darius Mosely played in 12 games as a freshman defensive back at Illinois (4-8). Mosely, who left O'Fallon early to enroll at Illinois last January, had 36 tackles.

* Illinois freshman guard Malcolm Hill (Belleville East) had played in all 17 games before Wednesday, averaging 3.1 points and just over 10 minutes of playing time. The 6-foot-6 Hill is 25-for-32 at the free-throw line.

*Cahokia High graduate Jimmie Hunt had 22 catches for 253 yards and one touchdown this season as a junior slot receiver for the Missouri Tigers (12-2). Missouri finished the season ranked fifth in the final Associated Press Top 25.

After losing to Auburn in the Southeastern Conference championship game. Missouri finished out its season with a 41-31 victory over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Hunt, a 6-foot, 215-pound junior, had one catch for eight yards against the Cowboys.

* Kansas junior running back Tony Pierson (East St. Louis) was the second-leading pass-catcher for the Jayhawks this season with 24 receptions for 333 yards and one TD. The score came on a 77-yard touchdown pass against Rice.

Pierson ran the ball 24 times for 163 yards in seven games this season, which was shortened because of a concussion.

The injury occurred Oct. 5 against Texas Tech, with Pierson missing the majority of the next four games. He came back Nov. 9 against Oklahoma State, then was lost after being hit the following week against West Virginia.

That included 87 yards on only six carries against Oklahoma State.

Pierson was named honorable mention All-Big 12 in 2012 after running for 760 yards and four TDs.

Kansas junior running back Ed Fink (Althoff) played in six games, primarily on special teams.

* Switched to the defensive line after playing running back at Edwardsville High, Iowa State senior Rodney Coe had 37 tackles and five tackles for loss this season. The 6-3, 305-pound Coe began his college career at Iowa Western Community College,

* Freshman guard Garret Covington (Edwardsville) is the leading scorer for Western Illinois University (7-9), averaging 13.3 points through 15 games. Covington also averages 4.7 rebounds and has a team-leading 29 3-pointers.

The 6-5 Covington was named Summit League Player of the Week after dropping a career-high 26 points on William & Mary on Jan. 4. He had a career-high five 3-pointers in the game.

* Belleville East graduate Warren Herring played in all 13 games for Wisconsin this season and finished with four sacks among his 17 tackles. The 6-3, 294-pound redshirt junior noseguard for the Badgers, who were 9-4 and lost 34-24 to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

* Southern Illinois University Carbondale sophomore tight end Adam Fuehne (Mater Dei) caught eight passes for 86 yards and one TD this season. Redshirt freshman linebacker Chase Allen (Belleville East) had 32 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 12 games.

* Former Central High and Southwestern Illinois College forward David Wiegmann now a senior at Albany, had a 14-rebound game Nov. 26 against Rider.

Wiegmann has started four of 16 games for the 8-8 Great Danes and averages 2.6 points. Albany reached the NCAA Tournament last season.

* Edwardsville High graduate Will Triggs is the third-leading scorer for Austin Peay, averaging 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Governors (8-9). Triggs needs 27 points to reach 1,000 in his college career.

Sophomore guard Cory Arentsen (Mater Dei) has two starts in 16 games and is averaging 3.4 points with 17 3-pointers, the second-highest total on the squad.

Both local players will have plenty of family and friends on hand Thursday when Austin Peay travels to SIU Edwardsville (4-13) for a 7 p.m. Ohio Valley Conference game.

*Former O'Fallon High punting standout Austin Barnes averaged 39.7 yards this season on 50 punts at Eastern Michigan. It was the 12th-best punting season in school history and helped Barnes become nominated for the Ray Guy Award, which honors the country's top college football punter.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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