As many know by now, I am the Southern Miss Golden Eagles writer and have been beating the drum of the Southern Miss to a bowl game this fall very loudly. With the combination of JUCO transfers and FBS transfers from big time programs, this has to be the year that the Golden Eagles make that move back to CUSA relevance.
ESPN's Grantland website recently dropped an article from staff writer Matt Hinton that agrees with the sentiment that Southern Miss is set up for a big 2015 season. The article, "Leap Year: Six College Football Teams Positioned to Break Through in 2015" included Southern Miss as one of the six FBS programs positioned for a break through this fall.
The Grantland writer is big on the sheer number of players that transferred from other programs and have already or will contribute to the Golden Eagles program in 2015. I previously wrote on the FBS and FCS direct transfers in an earlier article. As Hinton states:
When preseason camp kicked off earlier this month, Southern Miss’s depth chart featured a staggering 22 players who began their careers at other schools, at least half of whom have either cracked the starting lineup already or have a legitimate chance to do so. That number includes junior-college transfers as well as refugees from Michigan (RB Justice Hayes), Auburn (DE Ricky Parks and LB Anthony Swain), Oklahoma (DT Quincy Russell), Kansas (DT Andrew Bolton), Arkansas (OL Drew Peterson), Houston (WR Casey Martin), and TCU (QB Tyler Matthews) — in other words, just about any healthy, eligible body who can upgrade the talent level long enough to get Monken’s rebuilding project off the ground.
Hinton is correct that many of the players should produce in the Golden Eagles program, but of the players mentioned above only Casey Martin (55/531/2TD) has proven his talent on the field for Southern Miss. The transfers on the defensive line, Parks, Bolton, and Russell, will add to stalwart Michael Smith to make a suddenly scary defensive line. Russell is a big question mark as his time at Oklahoma was full of controversy. Swain, along with JUCO transfer Sherrod Ruff also give a new look to a front seven that could have five new starters this fall.
Hinton states while the transfers are a great addition to the program, the schedule is perfect for a bowl berth this fall, mentioning:
Again, Monken has some time if every short-term scholarship doesn’t come to full fruition. But given that six wins this fall would qualify as dramatic progress, and given a 2015 schedule that includes exceedingly winnable dates with Austin Peay, Texas State, North Texas, UT–San Antonio, Charlotte, UTEP, and Old Dominion, if it’s not right now, the outlook for two or three years from now isn’t going to look much better.