CHICAGO – After winning the 2011 NAIA National Championship back on December 17, Saint Xavier University head football coach Mike Feminis has spent a majority of the past six weeks recruiting his next freshmen class of impressive student-athletes. That job got a bit easier this week with the recent signings of five talented preps in quarterback John Rhode (Montini Catholic), athlete Austin Feeney (Morris), offensive lineman Jake Jankowski (Joliet Catholic) and defensive linemen Nick Cemeno (Providence Catholic) and Alex Hamilton (Minooka).
"John was one of the top spread quarterbacks in the state and the performance he had in the championship game against a great Joliet Catholic team (who Montini Catholic beat, 70-45, for the Class 5A state championship) was amazing," said Feminis. "He'll redshirt this year, but we're expecting him to compete for the starting job in 2013 with Joe Gill and Zach Raspopovich, who are really good in their own right. With the signing of John and having Jimmy (Coy) back for another year, we think our QB situation is in great shape for the present and future."
Rhode is 6-0 and 185 pounds and played under Chris Andriano at Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, Ill. He is the son of John and Becky Rhode. Feeney is 5-10 and 170 pounds and will likely play either at running back and/or slot receiver for the Cougars starting this fall. He was primarily a quarterback at Morris High School playing for head coach Alan Thorson. Feeney is the son of Jim and Wendy Feeney.
"Austin is like a mini-Bill McKeon (former SXU standout receiver)," continued Feminis. "He is a terrific athlete, who can play any of the skilled positions on offense. As of right now, we think he can help us sooner than later as a running back or slot receiver, but eventually doing some things as a Wildcat quarterback too."
On the offensive line, Feminis was happy with the addition of Jankowski and his 6-3, 250-pound frame. Jankowski played under Dan Sharp at Joliet Catholic Academy and is the son of Bob and Michelle Jankowski. Cemeno comes in at 6-1 and 245 pounds and played defensive end at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill., under Mark Coglianese. He is the son of Mike and Joy Cemeno. Hamilton is 6-2 and 225 pounds and played defensive end at Minooka High School for head coach Bert Kooi. He is from Channahon, Ill., and the son of Brett and Kathy Hamilton.
"Jake really fills a need for us at the tackle position," said Feminis. "He has a big frame, moves well and has a great chance to make the travel team as a freshman. Nick and Alex are two future starters on the defensive line and both have great motors. We only lose three starters on defense, but they were all defensive linemen, so we needed to shore up that area. I would not be surprised if both Nick and Alex saw playing time in their first year. The Joliet area has always been good to us and this year is no different. We landed some quality kids from great programs and they will have outstanding careers at SXU."