HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi will be saying farewell to nearly a quarter of their football roster Saturday afternoon at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
And USM football coach Jay Hopson said he hopes the 23-man senior class will be sent out with a bang in the final home game of their careers.
"Just a special day," Hopson said. "Hopefully, we have a big crowd to send these seniors out. They're a bunch of young men (who) have done a lot of tremendous things for Southern Miss and the football program. They are a special bunch of kids."
The seniors will be recognized prior to the 2 p.m. kickoff Saturday of USM's final home Conference USA game of the season against the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
USM (6-4, 4-2 C-USA) snapped a two-game skid last week with a pulse-quickening, 43-34 road victory over Rice University. Charlotte (1-9,1-5) dropped its second in row in a 35-21 home loss to Middle Tennessee State University.
The senior class includes defensive back Justin Abston; tight end Julian Allen; defensive back Jomez Applewhite; defensive back Cornell Armstrong; deep snapper Cody Block; defensive back Trae Collins; defensive lineman Rod Crayton; defensive lineman Derrick Dixon; defensive back Kelsey Douglas; offensive lineman Devin Farrior; offensive lineman Jerry Harris.
Receiver Isaiah Jones; defensive back Curtis Mikell; defensive back Tarvarius Moore; receiver Ben Olinger; defensive lineman Draper Riley; running back Ito Smith; defensive lineman Duncan Sparks; receiver Allenzae Staggers; offensive lineman Tyler Stutzman; defensive lineman Xavier Thigpen; long snapper Jacob Tran; and defensive back Kevin Williams Jr.
"It's a special day and I don't think they'll realize how special the day is, playing their last game in The Rock, but they will five to 10 years from now," Hopson said. "I would love to see a great Eagle Walk, and when we make that turn around the corner, to see a big crowd underneath M.M. Roberts Stadium supporting these guys because they've done a great job here.
"We just want to show our appreciation for everything they've done."
The game will be the final home appearance for Smith, who last week became just the 10th player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to reach career marks of 4,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. Smith ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the win at Rice.
Charlotte is led by quarterback Hassan Klugh, who has accounted for 15 of the 49ers' 18 touchdowns this season (eight passing, seven rushing). Klugh has thrown for 1,262 yards and eight scores with 11 interceptions.
Klugh has rushed for 457 yards, which stands second-best among Charlotte rushers behind Benny LeMay's 642 yards.
USM defensive lineman Draper Riley will see a 10-game streak of starts this season come to an end Saturday. Rile will sit out the first half after being ejected after an on-field altercation in the second half of the Rice game.