Big boys from Waynesboro making an impact for USM

Published: Oct. 1, 2022 at 11:28 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Southern Miss defense has been stout up front this season with 14 sacks through four games.

It has much to do with depth – adding several Southeastern Conference transfers to the mix during the offseason, including a couple of big boys from Waynesboro.

“Quentin Bivens gives us a lot of size, a lot of length, a lot of power – especially on the interior pushing the pocket,” said USM defensive line coach Brandon Lacy. “Armondous Cooley, great kid. Smiles, really pushes Quentin Bivens. They both play the same position and they’re basically clones. There’s one and two so that makes it really, really good.”

Lacy is not kidding.

Bivens and Cooley are both listed at 6 feet, 3 inches, 305 pounds.

Of course, they frequented the same cafeteria at Wayne County High School – but the way they pushed one another on the football field developed them into the big-bodied players they are today.

“Going different routes then coming back together and creating a stronger bond, he’s like a little brother to me,” Bivens said.

“He used to push me a lot,” Cooley said. “I used to always want to go [Division I] just like he did.”

Both realized that dream out of high school – Bivens signed with Ole Miss in 2017 and Cooley joined Mississippi State two years later.

But the Pine Belt beckoned them home. Cooley decided to transfer to Southern Miss on New Year’s Day – Bivens joined him a week later.

The War Eagles teaming up again as Golden Eagles.

“I’m happy for the new beginnings,” Cooley said. “I come here just ready to ball out this year.”

“I take a lot of pride because each year [Wayne County] has a defensive player go somewhere,” Bivens said. “They motivate us to do great things, it means a lot to me.”

The powerful pair fit right in at Southern Miss. They have a combined 21 tackles and two sacks between them.

The duo getting the best out of one another just like their days in Waynesboro – now with a whole band of brothers and Lacy to push them even further.

“He’s a hard coach,” Bivens said. “He’s just a technician and just wants us to make plays and be great.”

“He’s always teaching us about effort so we’re going hard every play, 100 percent every time,” Cooley said. “Doing the little stuff hard and then it just translates to the field.”

“There’s four things we kind of live by that are our core values,” Lacy said. “One – we want to play with fanatical effort. We want to give our offensive line the best look we can every day and be physical. Three, we want to be focused, we never want to beat ourselves. And four, we wanna have fun. That’s why you see us celebrating out there.”

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