HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) _ Last football season, Reed Stringer served as an additional pair of eyes for the University of Southern Mississippi, operating on staff as “quality control coach.”
This spring, USM head football coach Jay Hopson promoted Stringer to tight ends coach, moving the long-time veteran back to the practice field and the recruiting trail.
“I love ball,” Stringer said. “I love the competition. I love the camaraderie with the coaches and the players. I’m just really appreciative of Coach Hopson and the rest of this coaching staff here, allowing me to come last year and then allowing me to get back on the field.
“I’ve promised them I’m going to do everything to the best of my ability to gove everything I’ve got this program and win championships.”
Stringer, Canton native and twice a Delta State University graduate, said it felt like he had come back home.
“I’m really excited that Coach Hopson gave me an opportunity to get back on the field,” Stringer said. “I really enjoyed what I did last year, kind of sitting back and watching and learning a lot, bringing a different set of eyes on some things.
“But I love coaching. I love having my group of guys, seeing them give great effort, seeing them gradually improve and get better and give back to the team. That’s pretty good.”
And in USM’s recent, low-scoring, Black-and-Gold Spring Football game, one of Stringer’s guys, William Potolsky III, wound up scoring one of the game’s two touchdowns on a pass from Gold quarterback Jack Abraham.
“He’s good, a good guy,” Potolsky said. “Knows what he’s talking about. Really, good coach.”
Stringer certainly has the experience to know what he’s talking about.
A four-year letterman at DSU, he started at left tackle on the Statesmen’s Division II national championship team in 2000. Stringer ended his career with 35 consecutive starts on the edge.
After earning his master’s degree from DSU in 2003, he spent seven seasons on Sylvester Croom’s staff at Mississippi State University. He became the Southeastern Conference’s youngest, full-time assistant at the age of 25 when he was promoted to tight ends coach in 2005.
In 2007, he added special teams to his workload and in 2009, became director of recruiting on Dan Mullen’s staff.
Stringer spent a year on Dabo Sweeny’s staff at Clemson University before heading to Cajun country to the staff of UL-Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth, who had ties to both DSU and MSU.
Hopson, who grew up in Vicksburg, said he had known Stringer “for a while now.
“He’s a Mississippi boy, from this area, and us Mississippi boys, we love Mississippi. That’s just the reality of it. The bottom line is, I know he feels that way, just like I do. He’s a hard worker, an excellent football coach. Works hard, recruits hard. We’re happy to have him back on board.”
Now, with spring drills wrapping up last week, Stringer will hit the road for the first time in a few years.
“I’ll be back on the trail and will have my previous area, the area I’ve always had in Mississippi for a long time,” Stringer said. “I love recruiting and I love especially recruiting Mississippi kids. I’m a Mississippi kid and I played at Delta State when Mississippi kids won a national championship.
“You’re only as good as your players. We’re great coaches when we have great players and bad coaches when we have bad players, so it’s very important that we get the right kind of kids. Tough kids, tough-minded kids with the right athleticism, who can help us win championships.”
Stringer said he was grateful for the opportunity.
“I’m a Mississippi native and I have so much respect for this university, this football program, and especially for Coach Hopson, a guy I’ve known for a long time, not only as a football coach, but as a man.
“So, I really feel that I’m the one who came out on top here at a program I’ve wanted to be at. I’ll tell you, I’ve had conversations way before I came about coming. This is a place I felt real good about. I love the city, the university, this coaching staff, these kids, the hard-nosed, physical attitude of this football team, the culture, the history, of this football team.