HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ The University of Southern Mississippi did most of its heavy lifting in the early December period to build its 2020 football signing class.
The past two days, the Golden Eagles bolstered a few areas with five more players, including a graduate student transfer, two junior college signees and two high school seniors.
“These were guys that we felt like were just big additions,” USM football coach Jay Hopson said shortly before the start of a Signing Day social Wednesday evening.
Four of the additions were announced Wednesday with another cleared for release Thursday morning. The quintet brought the 2020 class count to 20, and included:
- Vinson Brown, a 6-foot defensive back from Marvel (Texas) High School, who caught the Golden Eagles’ staff collective eye at a camp
- Mitchell Sellers, a 6-5 tight end from Paradise (Texas) High School, who was a two-time All-District 4-3A selection and caught 44 passes for 709 yards and four touchdowns as a senior
- Grayson Gunter, a 6-5 tight end graduate transfer from the University of Arkansas, who had announced his decision to come to Hattiesburg earlier this year
- Da’quan Bailey-Brown, a 5-9 slot receiver from Dodge City Community College, who was named second-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-America after catching 42 passes for 718 yards and six touchdowns
- Camron Harrell, a 5-10 safety from the College of DuPage, who was the Chaparrals’ third-leading tackler (67 stops) and top pass defender (16) as a sophomore
Harrell, Brown and Bailey-Brown bulked up positions that were areas of need.
Harrell, Brown and fellow freshman Will Jones Jr. of ASA Brooklyn Community College will join junior college transfers Fred Smith from Jones College, Natrone Brooks from Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Eric Scott Jr. from Butler Community College to replenish a secondary that lost senior cornerbacks Ty Williams and Ernest Gunn and senior nickel back D.Q. Thomas.
Bailey-Brown will join junior college transfers Jason Brownlee from East Mississippi Community College and Antoine Robinson from Copiah-Lincoln as well as freshman Brandon Hayes from Oak Grove High School at receiver.
USM lost leading receiver Quez Watkins, who has declared for the National Football League draft, as well as seniors Jordan Mitchell, Neil McLaurin and Trevor Terry.
“The thing that I’m most excited about is that we hit the areas we needed to hit,” Hopson said. “Defensive back was a must, and I’m really excited about the defensive back haul, the guys who we brought in.
“Receiver was the same. We lost a lot of guys.”
Gunter, a Madison native, already has enrolled and will go through spring practice, while Sellers will not arrive until after the spring semester.
Drake redshirted his freshman season at the University of Iowa before re-emerging at DuPage for his sophomore season, where he played safety.
Twelve of the 19 signees listed have enrolled and are expected to take part in the spring drills, which open March 24.
“The great thing about this class, and we’ve done a good job of this for about the third straight year, maybe four, is that we’ve got a lot of guys in here midterm, which is huge,” Hopson said. “You get them to go through spring practice. You get them ready for the upcoming season. They get an opportunity.
“I’ve talked about this before, but football’s a little bit different from other sports. Football’s not only a skill game, it’s a mental game. There’s a lot of plays you have to learn, there’s a lot of things you have to do. So, it’s very hard to show up a month before the season starts, and it’s ‘OK, let’s go play.’ Where you might be sble to do that in some other sports, football’s a little bit different.”
Hopson said there could be from one to three more additions to the class.
“I might have one more and there’s a couple guys that I can’t really announce right now because of the paperwork,” Hopson said. “It’s (on) going, but I just can’t talk about it right now.”
Natrone BrooksDB5-11165Jr.Copiah-Lincoln/StarkvilleVinson BrownDB6-0175Fr.Marvel HS/Marvel, TexasJason BrownleeWR6-3190Jr.East Mississippi/West PointTerrence CherryDL6-2250Jr.East Mississippi/West PointTykeem DossOL6-5348Fr.East Central/Aliceville, Ala.Frank Gore Jr.RB5-8170Fr.Killian HS/Miami, Fla.Grayson GunterTE6-5230GSU. of Arkansas/MadisonAverie HabasLB6-3235So.Iowa Western/Rice Lake, Wisc.Camron HarrellDB5-10178Jr.College of DuPage/Bradley, Ill.Brandon Hayes WR6-2188Fr.Oak Grove HS/Hattiesburg Will Jones Jr. DB6-0203So.ASA Brooklyn College/Chicago Mike Pleas Jr.LB6-3230Fr.Lincoln HS/Tallahassee, Fla.Dominic QuewonDL6-3260Jr.Iowa Western/Minneapolis
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