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EIU football signs three

CHARLESTON – New Eastern Illinois head football coach Adam Cushing got a quick start to putting a new look on the Panthers roster as he signed three Illinois-based players during the early signing period. Grant Edwards, Donovan Perkins and Anthony Shockey all signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Panthers in 2019.

This is the second year that the NCAA has permitted schools to sign high school players during the early signing period. With three Illinois recruits in the early signing period, the Panthers tripled their Illinois-based signees from last season.

“All three of these players are outstanding young men who come from successful, well-coached programs in the state,” said Cushing on his first signing class. “We are looking to build on the strong tradition that Eastern Illinois football has and to do that we need to start by recruiting in our own backyard. We are excited about what lies ahead for us on the recruiting front and the type of young men we can bring in to help us achieve our W.I.N. (What’s Important Now) philosophy.”

Edwards (6’1”, 240) played at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin for legendary coach Ken Leonard, the winningest football coach in Illinois history. Edwards played both defensive end and linebacker during his time at Sacred Heart-Griffin and was rated at Top 50 FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Recruit by Hero Sports. Edwards earned All-Conference honors finishing the season with 51 tackles and eight tackles for loss. He helped lead Sacred Heart-Griffin to the second round of the IHSA Class 6A playoffs finishing the year with an 8-3 record.

Perkins (5’10”, 170) was a two-way player at New Trier in Winnetka for head coach Brian Doll. Perkins played both defensive back and wide receiver earning All-Area honors as a senior. He registered six pass break-ups as a defensive back and six touchdown catches as a wide receiver. Perkins helped New Trier post a 7-3 record as a senior as they advanced to the IHSA Class 8A playoffs.

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Shockey (6’1, 220) played linebacker at Glenbard East in Lombard for head coach John Walters, an Eastern Illinois alumnus. As a senior Shockey was named the Upstate Eight Defensive Player of the Year after recording 81 tackles with 17 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He was a two-time first-team All-Conference selection after making 72 tackles as a junior. Shockey was an honorable mention Class 7A All-State selection as a senior as the team posted a 10-1 record advancing to the second round of the IHSA Class 7A playoffs. Cushing was hired on Dec. 9 as the 25th head coach in Eastern Illinois program history. He was the offensive line coach at Northwestern and will coach the Wildcats in Holiday Bowl against Utah on Dec. 31.

EIU's Hollins named third team All-American

CHICAGO – Eastern Illinois senior wide receiver Alexander Hollins earned his second All-American honor in as many days as he was named a third-team All-American by Hero Sports on Wednesday.

Hollins was an electric playmaker for the Panthers offense this past season as he ranked second in the FCS in touchdown receptions with 16. He had two games with three touchdown catches including the EIU season opener at SEC member Arkansas. Hollins was one of three players to finish in the top 15 nationally in touchdown receptions, receptions and receiving yards. He finished the year with 80 catches for 1,102 yards.

Hollins was a candidate for the Walter Payton Award finishing 21st in the voting. He becomes the first EIU player to earn All-American honors since Dino Fanti was a first-team selection in 2015. He is the 17th EIU wide receiver to earn All-American honors in program history.

Hollins was named a second-team All-American on Tuesday by STATS.

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