HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) _ University of Southern Mississippi football coach Jay Hopson had said he wanted to have a new strength and conditioning coach on campus before the Golden Eagles returned to campus on Jan. 24.
Hopson confirmed Friday afternoon that Jim Durning, who had spent seven seasons building the University of North Carolina-Charlotte’s football strength and conditioning program from the ground up, would fill the same role in Hattiesburg.
Durning will fill the vacancy left when former strength and conditioning coach SaJason Finley was let go on Jan. 3 after four seasons with the USM program.
Durning found himself out of a job when Charlotte head football coach Brad Lambert was fired in November.
“Excited to have Jim,” Hopson texted Friday afternoon. “He has a lot of experience as a head strength coach
“He was highly recommended, and I think he will be a tremendous addition to our staff.”
Durning, a Wilmington, Del., native, had spent the past 20 years leading strength and conditioning programs.
He had been at Charlotte since 2012, helping prepare the 49ers for their debut on the football field in 2013 and eventual ascension to Football Bowl Subdivision status.
Prior to that, Durning spent 13 seasons at James Madison University, helping the Dukes to six Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances, including a 2004 national championship.
Durning, a captain on Marshall University’s 1992 national championship team, was a graduate assistant from 1994-96, for the Thundering Herd. He then followed head coach Jim Donnan to the University of Georgia and spent two years with the Bulldogs as a strength and conditioning assistant coach.
Hopson has two more staff vacancies to fill, including offensive line coach and quarterbacks/offensive coordinator.
Former USM line coach Erik Losey was dismissed by Hopson on Jan. 3 and former OC/QB coach Shannon Dawson left for a position at the University of Houston.