HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Twenty-five players signed with the Golden Eagles on Wednesday. Overall, Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson said he was "thrilled to death," with his 2017 signing class.
"It's kind of like NFL draft day," Hopson said. "You know where your needs are with your graduating senior class and your upcoming senior class, so you know where you got to have depth for the future."
Southern Miss signed six defensive backs with the reality of losing eight after the 2017 season.
With five offensive linemen graduating in 2016, the Golden Eagles signed six "trenchmen" including Gautier High's Paul Gainer.
"I had to go ahead and make the right decision for me, not just for the next five years but for the next 20 years," said Gainer, a three-star prospect by Scout.com. "I feel like [Southern Miss] was best for me."
"Southern Miss to the top," said Callaway High defensive back Emanuel Dabney. "[Southern Miss is] really the ones that have been on me since day one. "A lot of schools stopped recruiting me. Coach Hop[son] showed me love so I just wanted to return it back."
Replacing Nick Mullens, USM's all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, isn't an easy errand. However, Hopson expects his two quarterback commits from Florida, Suwannee High's Steven Anderson and Columbus High's Marcelo Rodriguez, to compete right away for the starting job under center.
"We're anxious to get these two young quarterbacks into our system and let them compete with Keon [Howard] and Kwadra [Griggs]," Hopson said. "It's going to be fun to watch them battle. That's the great thing about football and competition is you put the ball down there and let them compete for it."
Seven of USM's signees come from Florida but ultimately the Golden Eagles stayed in the Magnolia State, signing 13 Mississippians.
"The family atmosphere and how good it feels to be around the players and coaching staff," said Clinton High running back Darius Maberry on his decision to commit to Southern Miss. "Just how they make me feel at home."
"When I got their offer it was a no-brainer," said D'Iberville High defensive back Tyler Barnes. "I just immediately wanted to play for them. I wanted to be an Eagle since I was young."
"I believe in Mississippi," Hopson said. "I believe in this area. I'm a Mississippi boy myself. At the end of the day, I just believe the guys in this state can play football."
Southern Miss Football's 2017 Signing Class:
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