Salem Earns First-Team Nod; Seven Redbirds Named All-Valley
Dec. 1, 2008
ST. LOUIS - Junior wide receiver Eyad Salem (Elgin, Ill./Larkin HS) earned Illinois State's only first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection, while six other Redbirds were named to the All-Valley Football Team Monday, as voted on by the league's coaches, sports information directors and media members.
Salem had a stellar season for Illinois State. He ranked second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and 31st in the nation, in receptions per game (5.73 rpg); finished second in the conference in receiving yards per game (76.64 ypg) and total receiving yards (843 yards); and was 12th in all-purpose yards with 76.64 yards per game. Salem led all Illinois State receivers in 2008 with 63 receptions for 843 yards and eight touchdowns.
In his last 14 games for the Redbirds, dating back to the 2007 season, Salem has recorded 81 catches for 1,158 yards and 10 touchdowns. He now ranks 10th all-time at Illinois State in career receptions with 94, and is just 21 catches shy of moving into the top-five on the career receptions list at ISU.
Senior safety Tom Nelson (Arlington Heights, Ill./John Hersey HS), senior punter Bobby Kelsey (Channahon, Ill./Providence Catholic HS) and senior offensive lineman Jonathan St-Pierre (Longueuil, Quebec, Canada/Edouard-Montpetit HS) were each named to the All-Valley Football Conference Second Team.
Nelson's second-team all-conference accolade came as a return specialist and was the third of his career, after he previously earned the honor in 2006 and 2007. His 15.59 yards per punt return average ranked first in the Valley Football Conference and outpaced the next closest conference punt returner - De'Angelo Wilson of Youngstown State - by 3.59 yards per return. Nelson also accumulated 24.71 yards per kickoff return in 2008, which ranked third in the conference.
Kelsey finished his four-year Redbird football career with his first-ever all-conference accolade after he ranked third in the conference, and 22nd in the nation, in average yards per punt at 41.09.
St-Pierre also earned his first-ever all-conference selection after being named to the league's all-newcomer team in 2006. He started all 11 games for Illinois State and anchored an offensive line that allowed ISU's running game to amass 2,169 rushing yards on the season, the 10th-highest total in school history.
Senior defensive lineman Adam Blankenship (Tulsa, Okla./Union HS), sophomore defensive back Kelvyn Hemphill (San Antonio, Texas/O'Connor HS) and senior offensive lineman Joe Niklasch (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead HS) each earned honorable mention honors.