CARBONDALE | Mika’il McCall has turned the corner on Southern Illinois University and is now looking for a new school.
The junior running back was dismissed from the team Tuesday for what coach Dale Lennon called disciplinary reasons, four days before the Salukis (0-1) host No. 14/16 Eastern Illinois (1-0) at Saluki Stadium.
The Thornridge grad was the team’s leading rusher after getting 24 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in SIU’s 42-34 loss at Illinois last weekend.
In an email to The Southern newspaper late Tuesday night, McCall said the decision to dismiss him could have gone “both ways.”
“Well, that was the coach’s decision to let me go. Was it right? I don’t know, it could have went both ways,” McCall said. “But it was great while it lasted. The best thing to do is look towards the future now.
"I know even when no one has my back, God does. You just got to have faith.”
McCall did not immediately answer a Wednesday email asking for more details.
Lennon said the decision to dismiss McCall was after the 6-foot, 225-pound running back repeated some unacceptable behavior the two had discussed prior to this week.
SIU’s coach said it did not have anything to do with any legal problems, and that the behavior occurred sometime Sunday night and/or Monday. Lennon declined to go into any more detail.
McCall has not used his redshirt year, so if he decides to transfer, would likely have to use it if he tried to go to another Division I program. He would be, presumably, eligible right away if he transferred to a Division II or III school.
The move leaves SIU with some talented, yet unproven, running backs as it prepares for the Panthers.
Ken Malcome, a transfer from the University of Georgia, was the team’s second-leading rusher at Illinois with 21 yards on 12 carries in his Saluki premiere.
Tay Willis, a 5-8, 165-pound junior college transfer that also plays wide receiver, had 13 yards rushing on three carries and four catches for 21 yards.
Malcolm Agnew, a transfer from Oregon State that could be the best of the three, did not play at Illinois as he continued to recover from a sore hamstring.
McCall, who transferred to SIU from Iowa after the 2011 season, played in 12 games for the Salukis and made four starts. He rushed for 513 yards and nine touchdowns with SIU.
The younger brother of former SIU national champion thrower Jeneva McCall, he led the Salukis with eight rushing touchdowns in 11 games last year.
Tuesday’s dismissal was not the first time McCall has run into trouble. He was suspended for violating team rules for one game while at Iowa in 2011. He had four yards on two carries against Purdue and then missed the Hawkeyes’ road trip to Nebraska on Nov. 25.