The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have added some depth to the defensive backfield as former Louisville cornerback Devontre Parnell has decided to join the program as a graduate transfer. He will have one year remaining and will be eligible for the 2016 season.
Parnell, a graduate from Louisville in May, was a three-star recruit out of Winnsboro, South Carolina and part of the 2012 recruiting class according to 247 Sports. Parnell was also the #10 player in South Carolina and the #36 cornerback nationally as a senior.
The 5-11 defender chose Louisville over offers from Connecticut, East Carolina, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest. ESPN.com’s recruiting service rated Parnell as a four-star player.
Despite coming in with great expectations, Parnell was unable to find consistent playing time with the Cardinals. He was redshirted in 2012 due to an injury and missed his entire redshirt freshman season in 2013 due to illness. The rising sophomore saw the most playing time of his entire career in 2014, playing in three games and accumulating four tackles on the season. Injuries again derailed him with Parnell unable to build upon a solid start to the season.
After recovering in the offseason and expecting to compete for a starting job in 2015, the injury bug again overcame Parnell. He saw action in one game and missed the rest of the season with injuries, ruining any hope of taking a step forward last fall. After a battle for the starting position in the spring saw Parnell sitting in a backup role, he made the decision to take a look at other programs for finishing his career.
The rising senior considered Louisiana Tech, Appalachian State, and Southern Methodist among other programs before making a commitment to Jay Hopson and company.
The transfer from Louisville is the first incoming graduate transfer of 2016. The Golden Eagles were able to take advantage of the graduate transfer rule in 2015 with Michigan transfer Justice Hayes, Oklahoma transfer Quincy Russell, and Kansas transfer Andrew Bolton joining the program for 2015 season. Quarterback Tyler Matthews left the Golden Eagles as a graduate transfer this spring to vie for a starting job at New Mexico State.
Southern Miss is heading into the 2016 season with what looks like a stacked secondary. Even with the loss of Kalan Reed to graduation and a move of D’Neriuis Antoine to linebacker, the defensive backfield has several players with lots of experience led by Picasso Nelson (59 tkl), Devonta Foster (36 tkl), Cornell Armstrong (47 tkl), Curtis Mikell (30 tkl), Trae Colling (28 tkl), and Deshadrick Truly (21 tkl).
The Louisville transfer joins a Southern Miss defense that finished in the top three in Conference USA in scoring defense (25.6/#2), total defense (375.5/#2), rushing defense (151.9/#2), passing defense (227.6/#3), and defensive pass efficiency (119.0/#2).
The South Carolina native is expected to compete for the open cornerback position left open by the departure of Reed to the NFL. He has stated that he is now injury free and should be able to get on the playing field immediately.
Parnell is one of two players on the 2016 roster from South Carolina, joining high school teammate and 2015 JUCO signee Devonta Foster in the secondary. The addition of Parnell is the second FBS transfer to join the program since Hopson took over with rising junior tight end Rusty Clark coming from the Houston Cougars.