An offseason after finishing 12-2 (6-2 in conference), The Golden Eagles lost their Head Coach to North Carolina and more than half of their starters (only return 10). Despite the loss of talent, most notably the school record breaking Quarterback (Austin Davis), they will return a great core of veterans and young talent on both sides of the ball. Will the likes of Jamie Collins (OLB) and Anthony Alford (QB) be enough to keep the ship afloat?
Jamie Collins, OLB – Jamie, the 6’4 240 pound Outside Linebacker is entering his 4th year at Southern Mississippi and now moving to his 3rd position (Safety, Defensive End, now OLB). Playing the “Bandit” position in the 4-2-5 defense this past year, he had 98 tackles, 19.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks, along with 8 pass deflections, and an interception. He has a knack for making plays in the backfield, using his quick first step, and great hand usage, and disengages with ease. He needs to add muscle/weight to his frame, as he looks slim, but is line to be a solid 2nd-3rd round pick after the season (especially if he runs in his reported 4.5 range).
Tracy Lampley, WR/RB/R – Tracy is an undersized Athlete (5’9 170) on the Southern Miss Offense. He has played both Receiver and Running Back (due to injuries) and also returns kicks and punts. He will be moving back his natural position of Receiver this offseason, but will be moving to the outside, unlike the previous season(s) when he played in the slot. He has work to do, and needs to show he can gain separation, while showing good route running from the outside position.
Deron Wilson, DB* - Deron a two year starter on the Golden Eagle Defense, totaling 111 tackles (76 in 2011), 25 pass deflections (13 in 2011), and 7 interceptions (4 in 2011). He is the active leader in College Football with 4 interception returns for a touchdown. He is a true ballhawk at the Corner position, although he is undersized (5’10 175), he has good tackling technique and does a good job of reading the Quarterback’s eyes.
Jason Weaver, OT – Jason, a former 3* recruit (Rivals) went to Arizona Community College, where he played and started for 2 years, becoming an NJCAA All-American. He transferred to Southern Miss, where he started in 2010, but had his season cut short by a knee injury, only 3 games into the season. He came back in 2011 in better shape, starting all 14 games and earning a Second Team All-CUSA nod at Right Tackle. The 6’5 310 pound Tackle has good size, but needs to show he is healthy and athletic enough to move to the Left side during offseason workouts.
Jacorius Cotton, DB* - Third year player, now entering his 2nd year starting, tallied 98 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and 2 interceptions. He is a bit undersized at only 5’10 and 195 pounds, but plays bigger on the field. He is an in the box type Safety, who is a strong hitter and sure tackler. He is quick to get back into coverage, and has good football IQ. Size will kill him when he declares, but has reportedly gained mass in the offseason.
Desmond Johnson, RB – Desmond enters the 2012 season as one of the primary backs for the Golden Eagles. The 5’11, 215 pound Back has been injury prone the past 2 seasons, with 2 different serious injuries. He needs to show he can remain healthy for an entire season, if he can, look for a good season to end his career.
Kendrick Hanley, RB* - Kendrick an All-CUSA Freshmen selection in 2010, came into the 2011 in full form, starting in 4 games (played in 5) before a serious shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. The 6’0, 225 pound Back offers strong inside running, with enough speed to hit the outside and breakaway from the defense (career 6.3 ypc). Kendrick has a lot to gain with a healthy season, but needs to show he is a workhorse back, that can handle a full season’s load.
Khyri Thorton, DL* - Khyri is a versatile Defensive Lineman, who has good size (6’3 and 300 pounds), with good experience, along with great technique/ability. He can play in both the 43 (LDE/UT) and the 34 (5T). He has great strength and productivity and should be a late round consideration with his scheme versatility this year, and could climb the ranks if he comes back for his senior year.
Joe Duhon, OG/C – Joe is a 6’2 310 pound interior lineman, having experience at Guard (Southern Miss) but was recruited to play Center. He brings 24 career starts (19 straight) at Guard, only missing time in 2010 due to a knee injury. Joe continues to develop his skillset having graded out 70+ percent in 10 games this past season. He has good mobility and looks like he can move and hit the next level, due to this plus experience, should be a late round consideration.
Darius Barnes, OL – Darius, previously a Defensive End, moved to the Offensive side in 2009 (Special Teams). He has had a streak of 27 games played in (24 starts), with a frame built to move and defenders (6’4 360). He brings a well built frame, good bill of health, with no major injuries, and a wanting to learn and grow as a player. Needs to work on his footwork, but has strong arms and upper half, and should surprise people this year.
Dasman McCullum, RS SO DE – 22 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and 3 TFL. He has good size at 6’3 and 240 pounds and a quick first step. He will play more snaps this year and should grow as a defender, and will be playing both DE and LB.
Watch List (Players not Eligible):
Collin Jarbo, SO TE – A 6’3 255 pound former Receiver, turned TE his Freshman year. He only caught 2 passes, but had 35 yards and 2 touchdowns. Good blocker and can stretch the field, that can run Receiver routes. Look for him to garner more time in the Red Zone this year.
Chris Briggs, SO WR – Chris is a large Receiver, that should see a lot of Red Zone snaps. The 6’4 220 pound Receiver played in 10 games, caught 11 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Good first step off the line and can battle with the defender.