The Coast has often played a big role in teams winning college football national championships since World War II.
Either Alabama defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs or Georgia offensive lineman D’Marcus Hayes will become the 20th player with South Mississippi ties to win a national title if the Crimson Tide (12-1) beats Georgia on Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The national championships are recognized by the Associated Press and the Amway Coaches Poll (formerly United Press International).
Buggs played two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and worked his way into the Crimson Tide’s D-line rotation this season. Through 13 games, Buggs has 44 total tackles and two quarterback sacks. Hayes also played two years at Gulf Coast.
“With my background and where I came from, nobody ever thought I’d be here, even I didn’t think I’d be here,” Buggs told Rolltide.com. “I want to thank the coaching staff who gave me an opportunity to play at one of the best schools in the nation and for one of the best coaches in the world.”
Former D’Iberville High standout Kevin Norwood has the most championship rings of any Coast standout. The Sun Herald’s 2008 football player of the year played on Crimson Tide title teams in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Tight end Malcolm Faciane, fullback Steve Bowman and linebacker Jackie Sherrill each played on two national title teams at Alabama. Faciane was a member of Crimson Tide title squads in 2011 and 2012. Bowman and Sherrill starred on consecutive title teams in 1964 and 1965 under Paul “Bear” Bryant.”
Noseguard Terrence Cody made the biggest impact on Alabama’s national title team in 2009, Saban’s first at Alabama. The former MGCCC All-American blocked a game-winning field goal as time expired in a 12-10 win over Tennessee, keeping Alabama undefeated.
Defensive lineman Vann Bodden of Moss Point was a member of The Crimson Tide’s national title team in 1992 under coach Gene Stallings.
Running back Doc Blanchard, who played at St. Stanislaus, helped lead Army to a pair of AP national titles in 1944 and 1945. Blanchard won the Heisman Trophy in 1945.
The Coast also has its fingerprints all over all three LSU national title squads.
LSU had two South Mississippians on its 1958 national title team that featured the “Chinese Bandits” under coach Paul Dietzel. Right guard Ed McCreedy of Biloxi was a starter. Center Ken Wittmann of Pass Christian was also on the squad.
Stephen Peterman, a former St. Stanislaus standout, was a starting guard on the Tigers’ national title team in 2003 coached by Saban. Defensive lineman Sean Merrill of D’Iberville, was a redshirt freshman on that team.
Three local players starred on LSU’s national title in 2007 under coach Les Miles: wide receiver Demetrius Byrd (Pearl River Community College) and tight ends Mit Cole (Picayune) and Richard Dickson (Ocean Springs).
Here are the others:
Former Gulf Coast linebacker Eltoro Freeman and cornerback Demond Washington and cornerback Drew Cole of Picayune were all members of Auburn national title team in 2010.
Gulfport’s Dietrich Clausell was a backup tight end on Miami Hurricane’s national title squad in 1991.
Former Pascagoula High wide receiver Kez McCorvey was a starter on Florida State’s first national team under coach Bobby Bowden in 1993.
Who: Alabama vs. Georgia
When: 7:15 p.m. Monday
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta