HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With big targets like Mike Thomas and Casey Martin no longer on the Southern Miss Football team, the Golden Eagles look to the returning wide receivers to fill the void.
Special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach, John Wozniak, said the team relied on Thomas and Martin quite a bit.
"Mike, Casey and D.J. carried all of the load for us, so we're gonna have to spread it out more," Wozniak said. "The burden of the passing offense is going to go to more guys."
Senior wide receiver D.J. Thompson said, "It's crazy because it seems like just yesterday that it was our sophomore year and we were talking about how we needed to get better and now it's all or nothing so this is our last year."
The moment feels surreal to Thompson and he is ready to step into the spotlight.
"It's pretty big for me and I'm excited, just trying to come out here and make plays every day," Thompson said.
Head Coach Jay Hopson said, "D.J. has made some big catches this camp he really has, a bunch of those guys have."
Seniors like Thompson and Nick Mullens are helping the new players feel right at home.
"I feel like we got a lot of athletes, a lot of guys that can step up to the plate right now. And I'm excited about that because it's some big shoes to fill on the other side of the ball out there with me," Thompson said. "It's all about relationships with the quarterback and timing and who comes out here and busts their butt the hardest, and I'm excited about all our guys."
Junior college transfer from East Mississippi Community College Isaiah Jones will be expected to make a lot of big plays this year, especially since he will now be wearing jersey number 88, which is Mike Thomas' old number.
Jones said veteran quarterback Nick Mullens just wants them to be successful.
"He's a competitor," Jones said. "If we aren't on something he's gonna tell us. He's gonna make sure that we can fill those shoes from last year and make sure that we can come in and don't miss a beat."
The scrimmage this weekend could give fans a quick glimpse of what to expect from the wide receivers for the black and gold, and if they can take Southern Miss to the top.