Former Hayti star Ivory Winters among SEMO football departures

Southeast Missouri State redshirt freshman running back Ivory Winters (14) watches the Redhawks offense run through a play during practice at Houck Stadium last September.
Tom Davis ~

There weren’t many glaring concerns with the Southeast Missouri State football program in 2019, as it won a share of the Ohio Valley Conference championship. And that certainly applied to the running back corps.

The Redhawks were the third most productive team in league play on the ground and they returned every single back from a year ago.

Or at least they DID return the entire group.

Senior Mark Robinson has announced that he is transferring due to not being “happy with his role on the team,” according to seventh-year coach Tom Matukewicz, while redshirt freshman Ivory Winters has left the program due to academics.

In terms of Robinson, Matukewicz was disappointed, but not surprised with the departure of one of his top three backs (along with Zion Custis and Geno Hess).

“I like (Robinson),” Matukewicz said. “He’s a great worker and a great teammate. I wish it would be different, but it is a part of Division I athletics.

“There is only one football. We’re not going to play with two footballs next year.”

Robinson was second on the squad in carries with 117 (Custis led the team with 142) and he gained 545 yards.

He paced Southeast with seven rushing touchdowns.

“He wants to find a place where he feels like he could have a bigger role,” Matukewicz said. “We wish him all the luck in the world.”

In the case of Winters, Matukewicz was disappointed at the loss of the player, but he was frank about how the departure of the 2019 Semoball Male Athlete of the Year would impact his program.

“What did we lose,” Matukewicz asked. “You can’t miss something you didn’t lose. He didn’t have any yards and we won our conference championship.

“We’ll miss a good player from our area that I was hoping would be a great player in our program. But we have several (others) and we’ll be just fine.”

Winters transferred to Southeast in September after leaving Indiana University. He saw some action on special teams but never registered a carry on offense.

He was a redshirt player last season and Matukewicz said Winters is looking to transfer to a junior college.

Custis will be back in 2020 for his junior season after leading the Redhawks in carries and yards (711).

He scored five times on the ground and will battle redshirt sophomore Hess (575 yards, six scores) for playing time.

Those two veterans will be challenged by Charleston alum Q’Nairies Anderson and Xavier Myers, both of whom are redshirt freshmen.

The Redhawks are scheduled to open the 2020 season at Houck Stadium against Dayton.

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