Southern Miss has a lot to be excited about when it comes to its 2017 recruiting class. The Golden Eagles are bringing in 23 new signees in what is arguably the program’s best overall recruiting class in the last decade. A couple of big needs for the Golden Eagles going into National Signing Day were at the defensive back and offensive line positions, being that they lost a lot of key players at those spots. Defensive backs not returning in 2017 include D’Nerius Antoine, Deshadrick Truly and Devonta Foster. The offensive line will see a massive makeover this season, as USM will be without Cameron Tom, Wil Freeman, Brandon Farmer and Oliver Bates. Let’s take a look at what they did to fill those position needs.
Emanuel Dabney (3-star, Callaway, MS)
WyDale Flott (3-star, Saraland, AL)
Tyler Jack (2-star, George County, MS - Pearl River CC)
Tyler Barnes (2-star, D’Iberville, MS)
Kris Reed (2-star, Lawton Chiles, FL)
Shannon Showers (2-star, Fort White, FL)
Paul Gainer (3-star, Gautier, MS)
Woodlyson Alcius (3-star, North Miami Beach, FL)
Jimmie Terry (3-star, Tyler, TX – JC)
Justus Satterfield (3-star, Bowsher, OH - Coffeyville CC)
Travion Clayton (3-star, Baker County, FL)
Bryce Foxworth (2-star, Boca Ciega, FL)
For those who didn’t know, both Emanuel Dabney and Paul Gainer had previously been committed to Mississippi State. That in itself makes it that much more exciting that they’ll be wearing black and gold this Fall. Dabney was rated as Mississippi’s 12th best prospect coming out of high school. He possesses all the tools to be a big-time playmaker on defense.
Not only does he do good job in pass coverage, but Dabney also has the speed to close in fast on the ball carrier. Gainer, who is listed at 6’4”, 275 pounds, should get playing time immediately if all goes according to plan. He was rated as Mississippi’s 14th best prospect coming out of high school by 247Sports.
Overall, Gainer was rated as the 36th best guard in the nation. I could go on and on about the rest of the guys listed above, but in my eyes, Dabney and Gainer are most likely USM’s biggest “gets,” given the needs at each of their positions. WyDale Flott is another guy that could see early playing time this season, being that USM lost a lot at the safety position last year. Another offensive lineman that could get a considerable amount of playing time is the 6’4”, 300-pound tackle from North Miami Beach, Woodlyson Alcius.
Although wide receiver wasn’t really a position of need this upcoming season, the Golden Eagles will still be thrilled to add the talents of Jaylond Adams, Tim Jones and junior college-transfer Trevor Terry into the fold. USM should have incredible depth here, considering that stud wide receiver Allenzae Staggers is returning, along with Korey Robertson, Isaiah Jones and Marquise Ricard. Jaylond Adams won Alabama’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2016. 247Sports ranked Adams as the 9th overall “all-purpose back” in the nation. So even though he’s listed as a wide receiver, this kid is versatile enough to do a little bit of everything if needed. Another player to keep an eye out for here, is 2-star athlete from Okeechobee, Florida, Bubba Fludd. Despite playing QB in high school, I could see Fludd getting some time at wide receiver, along with playing on special teams.
Having so much depth at wide receiver should be a luxury for Coach Jay Hopson and sophomore quarterback, Keon Howard. Although Howard figures to be the starting QB heading into the 2017 season, USM added some depth for the future by signing Steven Anderson (3-star, Suwannee, FL) and Marcelo Rodriguez (2-star, Columbus, FL). With Kwadra Griggs (Itawamba CC transfer) returning for his senior season, both Anderson and Rodriguez are expected to redshirt this year. There has also been some speculation that Anderson could possibly change positions as well. He’s the biggest QB USM has, standing at 6’3” and weighing 235 pounds. As far as the starting job goes, the Golden Eagles are hoping that Keon Howard can soften the blow of losing an all-time great in Nick Mullens. Howard showed flashes of his potential at the end of last season. Now he just needs to put it all together in 2017.
We’ve already discussed USM’s secondary and some of the nice players they were able to add there, but the Golden Eagles signed some other talented defensive players as well. Key defensive players like Dylan Bradley (DL), Ja’Boree Poole (DL) and Elijah Parker (LB) will no longer be on campus. USM signed three defensive linemen: Delmond Landry (2-star, Southwest MS CC), Tahj Sykes (3-star, Columbus, MS) and Andrew Cole (2-star, Fayette-Ware, TN). As for linebacker, USM signed two in this years’ class: Freddie Hartz (3-star, Morton, MS) and Santrell Latham (2-star, Meridian, MS).
Freddie Hartz was a huge get for USM, considering that he held other offers from four SEC schools, including Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Hartz was ranked as the 21st best prospect in Mississippi and the 25th best linebacker in the nation by ESPN. He could very well be a starter going into the 2017 season, and at the very least, he should see a considerable amount of playing time.
As mentioned before, this is arguably the Golden Eagles’ best overall recruiting class in the last decade. Some will contribute immediately but I expect many to see the field down the road. Overall, this is a class that the fans should be excited about because this is a sign that the future is looking bright for Southern Miss despite the rocky 2016 season.