On Wednesday, February 5, the first day high school seniors can sign a National Letter of Intent. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles did a good job of shoring up their most obvious need, offensive linemen. The Golden Eagles were able to land two junior college offensive linemen, Norman Price and Thomas Collins. Price and Collins are currently enrolled and will take part in spring drills. Other early enrollees, include local prep star defensive back Picasso Nelson and linebacker Darian Yancy.
Southern Miss did a good job of gaining depth in the defensive backfield and signing the kids that were near the area. Head coach Todd Monken and his staff signed five defensive backs. Monken and his staff also kept 10 recruits in the state of Mississippi.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Golden Eagles signed a pair of JUCO wideouts, both with great size. Each of the four wide receivers signed stand over six feet tall. As mentioned earlier, Price and Collins, both listed at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds. are transfers from Hinds CC. Another big lineman was added from Faith Academy in Mobile, Ala., Hayden McMahan, who is also 6-foot-5. Southern also hung on to the commitment of Alabama native 6-foot-2, 197 pound quarterback Gunner Roach. A handful of running backs were signed in this class as well, running back Ito Smith headlines the running back class of this year.
As far as defense goes during the season the injury bug took a huge chunk out of the defense, which led to struggles on the defensive side of the ball. Monken and staff decided to address depth this recruiting season. The Golden Eagles landed defensive end Jon Michael Edwards, a three-star defensive end from Montgomery, Ala. Edwards could forces the coaches’ hand to play him early and often his freshman year. Another signee that could see the field early is Yancey. Yancey played defensive end and line back at the high school level, his ability to play either position gives him a great chance to play early.
Too many defensive backs? If there was was ever such a thing, it would be a good problem to have for the Golden Eagles. Defensive backs dropped like flies last season, so adding depth can not be a bad thing. Defensive backs Cornell Armstrong and Xavier Marion, as well as Nelson, could see themselves on the field early. Southern Miss also picked up a pair of athletes in Curtis Mikell and Jayshawn Washington. Washington could find himself lined up on either side of the ball relatively early.
Like in all recruiting classes, there are guys teams miss out on. They was the case this year, as several commits decided to go elsewhere. JUCO defensive back Ty Northern from Pearl River Community College, who committed 48 hours earlier, decided to play closer to home as he signed with Memphis. Running back J’Vonte Herrod was close to coming to the Golden Eagles, but opted to stay closer to home and play for Middle Tennessee. Herrod was seen as the next power back of the program’s future. Athlete Torrence Brown may have would have been the second coming of Jamie Collins, in an athletic sense. On the day before Signing Day, James Franklin and his staff at Penn State did to Southern Miss, what they have been doing since Franklin arrived and swiped Brown away with an late offer.
To wrap up the Southern Miss Golden Eagles signing class, Southern Miss signed 23 athletes. The class could be the start of a good tenure for coach Monken and staff. The staff did a good job of getting players that are ready to play right away by getting elite talent from the JUCO ranks. Two of the next season’s first three games are against the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Todd Monken’s Signing Day Press Conference