Terry Jackson looks for new start at Southern Ill.

Terry Jackson transferred from Minnesota to Southern Illinois on Jan. 15 after carrying the ball just 55 times last season. Jackson had rushed for 1,317 yards, six scores and 5.5 yards per carry in 2002, earning him honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. It was the fifth-highest rushing total in team history. However, plenty of playing time is not a sure thing for Jackson with the Salukis, who are ranked No. 2 in the I-AA polls behind defending champion Delaware. He is listed as a co-starter.

The Fighting Blue Hens defeated Southern Illinois in the first round of the playoffs 48-7.

Terry Jackson emerged as the Gophers' top running back in 2002 when Marion Barber underwent a redshirt season. Jackson rushed for 239 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries against Northwestern (10/10/02) to earn Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors. He ran for 238 yards on 29 carries against Michigan State (10/19/02) to become the first Gopher ever to post back-to-back 200-yard rushing games. Jackson finished the season with four 100-yard rushing games.

However, Jackson lost playing time and carries with Barber being healthy and the emergence of freshman Laurence Maroney at running back and presence of senior Thomas Tapeh at fullback.

Jackson may have thought that he would get plenty of playing time when he transferred. After all, the Salukis lost seniors Muhammad Abdulqaadir, Tom Koutsos and Brandon Robinson, who combined to rush for 2,453 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2003.

However, Southern Illinois has stockpiled plenty of talent since his transfer. Brandon Jacobs, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound power back with 4.5 speed, transferred from Auburn March 31, in time for spring practice. Jacobs led Auburn with a 6.2-yard average per carry and was second on the team in rushing with 446 yards. He rushed for 182 yards on 31 carries against Mississippi State and 103 yards on 10 carries against Western Kentucky. Jacobs was a JC All-American at Coffeyville (KS) CC, where he rushed for 3,248 yards and 37 touchdowns. Jacobs is considered a top-five running back prospects in the 2005 NFL Draft. Both Jackson and Jacobs are seniors.

Jacobs is not the only talented newcomer to Southern Illinois.

Arkee Whitlock, a JC transfer from Coffeyville, carried the ball 188 times for 1,383 yards (6.1 yard per carry) and 17 touchdowns.

Craig Turner, a 5-foot-11 freshman from Boutte (LA) Hanville, led his team to a 15-0 record and 5A state championship his senior year as his team finished ranked 15th in the nation by USA Today. Turner rushed for 1,340 yards, 30 touchdowns and a 9.8 yards-per-carry average in 2003.

The competition at running back prompted Willie Reed, a 5-foot-10, 190-pounder from Pompano, Florida, to decide to not attend Southern Illinois this coming fall for unspecified reasons and return home. Reed rushed for 1,075 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in just seven games his senior year at Coral Springs High School.

Southern Illinois opens its season Thursday night at home versus Southeast Missouri State.

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