HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) _ University of Southern Mississippi football coach Jay Hopson liked the group of 2019 signees the Golden Eagles landed during the early period in December.
And Hopson said he was pleased with the way the Golden Eagles topped off the 23-man class Wednesday with the addition of four more players.
“Good group, able to get some more guys where we had some needs, get more depth,” Hopson said Wednesday afternoon. “But happy with these guys.”
The quartet included a pair of linebackers, a place-kicker and wide receiver, including:
- Torrence Brown (6 feet, 4 inches; 255 pounds); linebacker; Penn State University
Brown prepped at hometown Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Academy, starting seven games for the Nittany Lions as a sophomore and junior before missing 2017’s last 10 games and all of his senior season because of injury. Brown will enroll this summer as a graduate student and have one year of eligibility.
“Torrence was a leader on that Penn State defense, so we feel like he’s a big addition,” Hopson said.
- Demarcus Jones (5-11, 190); athlete; Northwest Mississippi Community College
Jones was a two-way standout at Warren Central High School in Vicksburg before heading to Northwest and likely will get long looks on both sides of the football.
“Dee-moh is a guy I’ve liked for a long time,” Hopson said. “He’s been moved around so many times. He’s played running back, receiver, defensive back, dah, dah, dah.
“But he’s a 6-foot, 200-pound guy who runs a 4.4 (-second 40-yard dash) and is going to be a good football player. For us, he’s probably going to play running back or defensive back.”
- Andrew Stein (5-10, 170); place-kicker; Slidell (La.) Northshore High School
Stein made 18-of-32 field goals over the past two seasons, including a long of 49 yards. He missed just one extra point in 29 attempts, and on kickoffs, he recorded 48 touchbacks.
“You look at our kicking situation, and we felt like Andrew was a great, great get,” Hopson said. “We have (junior) Briggs (Bourgeios), but we lost (senior) Parker (Shaunfield), so it’s good to get some numbers there and Andrew will be in the competition for our kicking job.”
- Avery White, (6-4, 195); linebacker, East Central High School
A four-star recruit, White played in the 2018 Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Football game while helping the Hornets make deep runs through the 2017 and 2018 Class 4A South State playoffs.
“I love Avery,” Hopson said. “We had him here in camp. He had a great year and a great all-star game.
“I feel like our linebacking corps is getting long and tall again, and Avery is no exception to that. He’s another great linebacker that we’ve signed.”
Hopson didn’t rule out an addition or two to the class, with an eye toward bolstering a couple of positions.
“Linebacker would be a spot on defense,” Hopson said. “We’ve got some really good young football players there, and we’re going to be really improved, bigger and faster, at that position, but that’s the place.
“Offensively, I think you always look at receiver, and there might be a guy or two who could add some depth at that spot.”
USM had two verbal commitments from wide receivers sign elsewhere Wednesday, including Jacksonville (Fla.) Robert E. Lee Tahveon “Taz” Nicholson (Florida Atlantic University) and Meridian High Kendrick Brown (Alcorn State University).
USM also learned that its leading receiver in 2018, sophomore Quez Watkins, did not meet academic requirements, and will not be enrolled for the spring semester.
Hopson was asked if he hoped Watson might be able to return for the fall.
“What do you think?” Hopson asked. “Of course.”
SOUTHERN MISS FOOTBALL
CLASS OF 2019
- Dee Baker, RB, 6-0, 170, Fr., Northwest Rankin HS/Flowood
- Luke Baker, TE, 6-4, 198, Fr., Gulf Coast HS /Naples, Fla.
- Swayze Bozeman, OLB, 6-3, 210, Jr., Copiah-Lincoln CC/Tri-County Academy/Flora
- Naricuss Driver, TE, 6-3, 246, Jr., Highland (Kan.) CC/Spalding HS/Griffin, Ga.
- Tanner Hawthorne, OT, 6-6, Jr., 300/Glendale (Ariz.) CC/Centennial HS/Peoria, Ariz.
- Jaden Johnson, QB, 6-2, 208, Kirby High School/Memphis, Tenn.
- Tre Johnson, OT, 6-7, 296, Jr., Iowa Western CC/First Academy/Orlando, Fla.
- Eriq Kitchen, DE, 6-2, 247, Jr., East Mississippi CC, South Panola HS/Batesville
- Khalen Leonard, CB, 6-3, 175, Fr., Texas Prep Academy/Alvin, Texas
- Markel McLaurin, ATH, 5-11, 175, Fr., Collins HS/Collins
- T.Q. Newsome, ATH, 6-1, 205, Gulfport HS/Gulfport
- Chandler Rogers, QB, 6-0, 179, Lake Ridge HS/Mansfield, Texas
- Matthew Ryals, OT, 6-7, 280, Fr., Purvis HS/Purvis
- Gerquan Scott, OL, 6-4, 300, Fr., Davidson HS/Mobile, Ala.
- Chris Scruggs Jr., WR, 6-2, 175, Superior Collegiate Academy/Clearwater, Fla.
- Louis Smith, C, 6-3, 294, Fr., D ‘Iberville HS/Biloxi
- Khalique Washington, OL, 6-5, 320, Jr., Dodge City (Kan.) CC/Lebanon Co. HS/Lebanon, Pa.
- Antavious Willis, ATH, 5-10, 175, Fr., Velma Jackson HS/Camden
- Coker Wright, C, 6-4, 275, Fr., Brookhaven HS/Brookhaven
- Torrence Brown, LB, 6-4, 255, Sr., Penn St. University/Tuscaloosa Academy/Tuscaloosa, Ala.
- Demarcus Jones, ATH, 5-11, 190, Fr., Northwest Mississippi CC/Warren Central HS/Vicksburg
- Andrew Stein, PK, 5-10, 170, Fr., Northshore HS/Slidell, La.
- Avery White, LB, 6-4, 195, Fr., East Central HS/Kiln