Football - Thu, Feb. 5, 2004
CHICAGO -- Head coach Mike Feminis beefed up the 2004 Saint Xavier University football roster Wednesday with the addition of five talented preps from around the Chicagoland area. All five players have signed letters of intent to continue their athletic and academic careers as Cougars this fall. Feminis was able to land two, highly touted players from his alma mater, Marian Catholic High School, in running back Chris Rodriguez and wide receiver/tight end Andy Lietz. Marian Catholic finished the 2003 season with an overall record of 7-3 and qualified for the IHSA 6A playoffs under head coach Dave Mattio.

Rodriguez was named to the Class 6A Illinois High School Coaches All-State team, the Star Publications All-Area team, the Southtown Economist All-Area team, and was the East Suburban Catholic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He was also named to the Sun-Times All-Chicago Area team as a Special Mention. He is the son of Felix and Donna Rodriguez of Olympia Fields, Ill.

"I've known Chris since he was in junior high and was happy that he didn't grow too much in high school," said Feminis. "I have no doubt in my mind that he isgood enough to play at a Division I-AA or mid-level Division I school, because he is that good. We are very fortunate to get him. Chris is also a heck of a baseball player, so I think the opportunity to play two sports in college had a big influence in his decision to attend Saint Xavier University."

Lietz was an East Suburban Catholic All-Conference First Team selection and named to the Star Publication's and South Economist's All-Area teams. He was also a member of the 2003 Illinois H.S. Football Coaches Association Class 6AAcademic All-State team. Lietz is the son of Howard and Debra Lietz of Blue Island, Ill.

"Like Chris, I think some of the bigger schools missed the boat on Andy," said Feminis. "He's not a burner, but Andy is a huge target at 6-4, 190 pounds and very athletic for his size. He runs good routes, has great hands and won't hesitate to go across the middle to catch a ball. He's fearless."

Feminis also landed Andrew Kolodziej, who played defensive end for the 2003 5A state champion Joliet Catholic Academy Hilltoppers under head coach Dan Sharp. He was a first team member of the East Suburban Catholic All-Conference team. Kolodziej is the son of Tom and Cindy Kolodziej of Joliet, Ill.

"It's unbelievable," said Feminis. "Andrew's brother (Mike) is 6-9, 325 pounds and will be a starting offensive tackle at Michigan next year. Andrew is about a foot shorter and over 100 pounds lighter, but is still very strong, quick and extremely active. His motor never stops running and he will definitely help us down the road."

SXU added another defensive player Wednesday from Mt. Carmel High School when Nick Halloran, a defensive back, signed his letter of intent with Saint Xavier. Halloran played for Frank Lenti at Mt. Carmel and was named a team captain his senior season.

"Nick is going to be a good collegiate player for us," said Feminis. "He is athletic enough to play both man and zone coverage, but what I really like is that he is not afraid to hit. He may have a chance to get on the field as a freshman."

Jim Strimel, a defensive lineman from Lincoln-Way Central in New Lenox, Ill., also joined the Cougar football team Wednesday and will walk on to the Cougars this fall. He played for the Knights under Rob Gliemi and is the son of Steve and Karen Strimel, also of New Lenox. His brother, Steve, transferred to SXU in January and will serve as a running back for the Cougars this fall.

"Jim is a great addition to our program," said Feminis. "His best days as a football player are ahead of him. He comes from a football family and it is always nice to have a talented set of brothers playing together."

The Cougars finished the 2003 regular season with a record of 7-4, including 5-2 in Mid-State Football Association Midwest League play to claim a share of the MSFA league championship.