Former SIU player hailed as hero

Former Southern Illinois University football player Jason Seaman is being hailed as a hero after he protected students during a school shooting in Noblesville, Ind., last Friday morning.

A science teacher at Noblesville West Middle School, Seaman was shot three times while intervening to stop the shooter, according to the Indianapolis Star. 

Initial reports indicated several injuries but no fatalities at the school. 

According to a Facebook post by Seaman’s mother, Kristi, her son was in good condition Friday afternoon after surgery. Media reports shared that Seaman had been released from the hospital over the weekend.

Seaman played defensive line and lettered four years in football from 2007-10. 

A native of Mahomet, he was recruited by former SIU head coach Jerry Kill and played one season under Kill, who is now the school’s acting director of athletics.

“Someone asked me if I was surprised by what he did, and I said ‘absolutely not,’ he was our type of kid,” said Kill.

“That’s what he stood for. He’s a great young man and I’m praying for him to be ok. I saw a statistic that more kids are being killed in schools than are dying in the military. This stuff has got to stop.”

Current SIU football head coach Nick Hill, who played on the same team with Seaman during the 2007 season, also reacted to the news late Friday afternoon and said his heart goes out to the Noblesville community and to all those who have been affected by school violence. 

“If someone didn’t step up, how many junior high kids could’ve passed away today?” Hill asked. “They didn’t because of Jason. (At SIU) he was a great teammate, one of the team’s hardest workers. You could always trust him to do the right thing.”

Seaman played in 47 games during his career at SIU and totaled 88 tackles, 8.0 sacks and 14.0 tackles for loss.  The elementary education major was also named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Academic team. 

Southern’s teams made three playoff appearances and won two conference championships during Seaman’s career.  During his freshman season in 2007, Southern Illinois went 12-2 and advanced to the semifinals of the playoffs.

“We had a good team that year, the best I’ve ever been around,” Hill recalled. “As a true freshman that was a tough lineup for (Jason) to crack. I remember being at Northern Illinois when a guy went down, Tony (Colletti) got hurt that game, and Jason had to play, and we beat (FBS) Northern Illinois. 

“That season we went to the FCS semifinals and he was a key player for us on a really good football team. He was just a tough kid who didn’t say much and just went to work.”

His position coach on the defensive line for two seasons was Austin Flyger, who is currently Southern’s defensive line and special teams coach.

“The reason you get into coaching is to work with guys like him,” Flyger said. “He was a selfless person: from my experience with him he would have given the shirt off his back. 

“The way he led, he went to work every day, worked his tail off in the weight room, worked his butt off on the practice field, he was a great example in the classroom, all the things you want in a student-athlete he pretty much exemplified.”

(Editor’s note: the accompanying story was posted on the SIU Athletics websites, which attributed quotes from the coaches to KFVS12.)

The Gazette-Democrat

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