HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - University of Southern Mississippi football coach Jay Hopson and his staff approached the 2017 signing class with one eye on the present and the other peering a few years down the road.
With just less than half of a 25-man class devoted to the secondary and offensive line, USM provided both positions, not only with potential immediate help, but needed depth for the future.
"It's kind of like NFL draft day," Hopson said Wednesday afternoon after a morning spent collecting letters-of-intent. "You know where your needs are with your graduating senior class and your upcoming senior class, so you have to build depth for the future."
The class also skewed high school-heavy, with 19 of the signees expected to graduate this May and join the Golden Eagles this summer.
A 20th high school player, North Miami Beach offensive lineman Woodlyson Alcius, graduated early and was one of four to sign with the Golden Eagles during the early period in December.
Joining Alcius on the practice field when spring drills begin March 22 will be Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College offensive lineman Justus Satterfield, Southwest Mississippi Community College defensive lineman Delmond Landry and Jones County Junior College receiver Trevor Terry.
Another 21 players signed Wednesday, including a late addition: receiver Jaylond Adams of Minor High School, who was named Alabama's 2016-17 Gatorade Football Player of the Year. Adams was counted among Troy University's signees earlier Wednesday before flipping to USM Wednesday evening.
USM graduated starting safety D'narius Antoine and rovers Devonta Foster and Deshadrick Truly this year, and will lose eight more defensive backs after the 2017 season: Picasso Nelson Jr.; Justin Abston; Cornell Armstrong; Jomez Applewhite; Curtis Mikell; Trae Collins, Kevin Williams Jr.; and Kelsey Douglas.
The Golden Eagles signed six defensive backs Wednesday, including safeties WyDale Flott of Saraland (Ala.); Shannon Showers of Fort White (Fla.); and Tyler Barnes of D'Iberville and cornerbacks Tyler Jack of Pearl River Community College; Emanuel Dabney of Jackson Callaway; and Kris Reed of Tallahassee (Fla.) Chiles.
With the loss of five offensive linemen, including starting center Cameron Tom, guards Oliver Bates and Brandon Farmer and tackles Jacob Fleming and Will Freeman, USM went heavy on the heavies up front.
In addition to Alcius and Satterfield, the Golden Eagles added Jimmie Terry of Tyler (Texas) Community College, Paul Gainer of Gautier; Bryce Foxworth of Pinellas Park (Fla.) Boca Ceiga and Travion Clayton of MacClenny (Fla.) Baker County.
USM also stayed close to home, with 13 signees having Mississippi ties.
"I believe in Mississippi," Hopson said. "I'm a Mississippi boy myself. So, at the end of the day, I just believe the guys from this state can play football.
Another seven signees came from Florida, including three from the Miami area.
Hopson said while the Florida Panhandle has long been a USM recruiting ground, both he and defensive coordinator have ties across the Sunshine State from past jobs.
"I think it's a natural area for us because we have relationships and connections down there," Hopson said. "It always helps when high school coaches know you."
With the graduation of starter Nick Mullens and back-up Parker Adamson, USM signed two prep quarterbacks from Florida, Marcelo Rodriguez from Miami (Fla.) Columbus and Steven Anderson from Live Oak (Fla.) Suwannee, to bolster the position.
"Both of them do things, and in the fall, it's going to be fun to watch them battle," Hopson said. "Steven, he does kind of remind me of (former East Carolina University great and former NFL quarterback David) Garrard a little bit. He's strong, throws the ball extremely well. He's smart. He's durable. There's nothing you can't do with him. Marcelo, we've seen him throw the ball and it comes out hot. He can really rip it. They're both competitors"
Early Signees (4)
Woodlyson Alcius, OL, 6-4, 290, Miami, Fla./North Miami Beach HS
Delmond Landry, DE, 6-4, 285, Donaldsonville, La./Southwest Mississippi CC
Justus Satterfield, OL, 6-3, 295, Toledo, Ohio/Coffeyville (Kan.) CC
Trevor Terry, WR, 6-1, 185, Long Beach/Jones County JC
Wednesday signees (21)
Jaylond Adams, WR, 5-10, 177, Adamsville, Ala./Minor HS
Steven Anderson, QB, 6-3, 236, Live Oak, Fla./Suwannee HS
Tyler Barnes, DB, 5-10, 185, D'Iberville/D'Iberville HS
Briggs Bourgeois, PK, 6-0, 190, St. Amant, La./St. Amant HS
Travion Clayton, OT, 6-3, 310, Glen Saint Mary, Fla./Baker County Senior HS
Andrew Cole, DT, 6-5, 285, Somerville, Tenn./Fayette Ware Comprehensive
Emanuel Dabney, CB, 6-1, 170, Jackson/Callaway HS
Bubba Fludd, CB, 5-9, 167, Okeechobee, Fla./ Okeechobee HS
Bryce Foxworth, OL, 6-4, 302, Gulfport, Fla./Boca Ciega HS
Paul Gainer, OL, 6-3, 275, Gautier/Gautier HS
Freddie Hartz, LB, 6-2, 230, Morton/Morton HS
Tyler Jack, CB, 5-10, 175, Lucedale/Pearl River CC
Tim Jones, WR, 6-1, 200, Biloxi/Biloxi HS
Santrell Latham, OLB, 6-2, 192, Meridian/Meridian HS
Darius Maberry, RB, 5-9, 173, Clinton/Clinton HS
Kris Reed, WR, 5-10, 168, Tallahassee, Fla./Lawton Chiles HS
WyDale Flott, DB, 6-0, 175, Saraland, Ala./Saraland HS
Marcelo Rodriguez, QB, 6-2, 196, Miami, Fla./Columbus HS
Shannon Showers, DB, 6-1, 185, Fort White, Fla./Fort White HS
Tahj Sykes, DT, 6-3, 265, Columbus/Columbus HS
Jimmie Terry, OG, Madison/Tyler (Texas) CC
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