HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Six Golden Eagles had their names forever etched in the Southern Miss record books on Friday as USM held its M-Club Hall of Fame ceremony.
Sidney Coleman (football), Art Gill (football), Tosha Barnicoat Firestone (volleyball), Renee Magee (women's basketball), Brad Willcutt (baseball) and Joe Bryant (honorary member) make up the 2017 Hall of Fame class.
Coleman finished with the third-most tackles (438) in Southern Miss history during his career from 1984 to 1987. The defensive lineman played professionally for three seasons and for the past 20 years has been a member of the Meridian Police Department.
"I think it's a tremendous honor," Coleman said. "When I was at USM a long time ago, I did some pretty good things. I was just hoping this day came that I would be inducted into the M-Club Hall of Fame."
Another football player, Art Gill, was honored posthumously by his brother, Russell. Art played tackle from the Golden Eagles from 1964-66, helping the 1965 defense rank No. 1 in the nation allowing just 161 yards per game.
Willcutt enters the hall still ranking atop the Southern Miss baseball leaderboard in career doubles (72), walks (139) and runs-batted-in (236). During his four seasons at catcher (2002-05), Willcutt helped USM to three NCAA regionals including ths school's first time as host in 2003.
"It's such a huge honor," Willcutt said. "When I got the call from coach [Corky] Palmer it was just a dream come true. You play, you do the best you can and you look back at your career down the road and when you finally get that call, it's just a huge honor. Glad to be a part of the group now."
A three-time All-Conference USA selection during her playing days, Firestone is USM's all-time leader in kills (1,566). The Medford, Oregon native said she's glad she made the decision to come down to Hattiesburg where she enjoyed a four-year volleyball career (1996-99).
"Probably one of the biggest reasons I am here is I really have always believed in myself," Firestone said. "I came in as a freshman and started all games. I wanted to set records and get first-team all-conference and do these type of things. Hall of fame, that was a little far-fetched for me probably but I'm super happy to be here now."
A Tylertown native, Magee helped the Lady Eagles to three NCAA appearances during her four years (1986-90). The point guard ranks second on the USM all-time assist list (564) and is one of only four players in Lady Eagle history to record a triple-double.
"It feels amazing," Magee said. "I never thought my career would end with such a wonderful accomplishment. I'm just blessed and I thank God for it."
Bryant receives an induction into the Hall of Fame after his many years of service for the M-Club. The former M-Club president continues to serve as a member of the M-Club Board of Directors.
"I can't say what this means to me," Bryant said. "M-Club is something that's been very dear to me and I kind of dedicated myself doing some things with the M-Club. I'm glad to see where they are."
Bryant was also a member of the Golden Eagle football team from 1971-75, playing under P.W. Underwood.
When you played for P.W., you didn't play for four or five years, it was for life," Bryant said. "He came by my office one day in the mid-1980's and said 'You're going to be on the [M-Club] board.' He came to me back in the early 1990's...and said 'You're going to be the treasurer.' And I said to myself, 'I'm going to protect that money better than the gold in Fort Knox.' I'm not going to have P.W. on me because he said, 'I can trust you boy.' My heart's been here ever since I got here in '71 and will stay here."