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Lennon, Karim named cream of Valley crop

Named best coach, offensive player

Published: Monday, November 30, 2009

Updated: Monday, November 30, 2009 22:11

Playoffs, Rendleman

Julia Rendleman ~ Daily Egyptian.

Deji Karim and Saluki football head coach Dale Lennon celebrate a 48-7 home playoff win over Eastern Illinois University Saturday. Karim was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year, while Lennon was named MVFC Coach of the Year Wednesday.

Winning the Missouri Valley Football Conference outright, being ranked No. 1 in the country and earning the No. 3 seed in the playoffs was not enough as head football coach Dale Lennon and running back Deji Karim are now bringing in more accolades.

Lennon was announced as the MVFC Head Coach of the Year Wednesday, while Karim became just the fourth player in SIU history to be named the conference's top offensive player.

Lennon, who has won the award twice in two seasons as SIU's head coach, said his entire staff also deserved a piece of the award.

"I think it's a great compliment to the staff," Lennon said. "I've always felt very good about the staff that we were able to put together here, and we work well together … it's a nice reward for a lot of people."

Karim said he is just trying to get everybody involved in the game when he touches the ball.

"I try to provide that spark if we don't have that spark," Karim said. "I try to pump people up to get them going, and it helps my game, as well as it helps everybody else."

Karim is the first Saluki since Joel Sambursky in 2004 to receive the honor.

The MVFC accolades may be the first among many this year for Lennon and Karim.

Lennon is listed as one of the finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the top coach in the Football Championship Subdivision. On Monday, Karim was named as one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award. The award is given to the top player in the FCS.
The other two nominees for the Walter Payton Award are Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards and Elon wide receiver Terrell Hudgins.

The Robinson and Payton awards are voted on by a select group of sports information directors, writers and broadcasters covering FCS football.

Despite all the praise directed toward the two Salukis, Lennon said he would only focus on the season and the next game.

"It's nice to be honored like that, but it's not important to me," Lennon said. "Right now we're still in the middle of a season, and if I take my focus off of that, it will be over."

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