Three Coast football standouts make their official visits to Southern Miss this weekend – two are solid commits and a third is still on the fence.
D'Iberville senior safety Tyler Barnes and Biloxi senior receiver Tim Jones are both verbally committed to the Golden Eagles and the third, Gautier offensive lineman Paul Gainer, is a free agent.
If Barnes has anything to do with it, Gainer will be the next Coast product to jump on board with the Golden Eagles. Barnes plans on making a case for USM to all the prospects on campus this weekend who haven't committed to the Golden Eagles.
“I'm going to make sure I talk to them, especially Paul,” Barnes said. “I met him a couple of years ago. I'd love to play with him. You'll see me talking to him.”
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Gainer, who dropped his verbal commitment to Mississippi State on Jan. 4, visited Tulane this past weekend and he has another visit planned for Louisiana-Lafayette on Jan. 27.
Gainer said this week that he's built a good relationship with the man responsible for recruiting him at USM, tight ends coach Desmond Lindsey.
As for where his recruitment stands at the moment, Gainer said “It's still up in the air.”
While Gainer is uncertain on his future destination, Barnes and Jones are simply hoping to learn more about their future home in Hattiesburg.
“I just want to see the campus, have an experience and see what's going on,” Jones said. “I just want to make sure it will be comfortable for me.”
Barnes and Jones have gone head to head on the football field in recent seasons and Barnes likes the idea of being on the same team as one of the best offensive players to ever suit up for the Indians.
“It's exciting,” Barnes said of the prospect of playing with Jones. “Hopefully, I can build a chemistry with Tim Jones. I know a lot about him.
“He does well getting off the line. He has a tremendous first step.”
A former D'Iberville teammate of Barnes, redshirt freshman defensive end Jacques Turner, will serve as the host for Barnes on his visit to USM this weekend.
“We've played together starting in my 10th grade year,” Barnes said. “We always had that chemistry, hung out.
“He said he wants to make sure I have a good time. I want to get to know my coaches and build on that chemistry even more.”
Jones, Barnes and Gainer will be among approximately 15 prospects on official visits to USM this weekend. Morton linebacker Freddie Hartz, Clinton cornerback/running back Darius Maberry, Miami, Fla., quarterback Marcelo Rodriguez and Marrero, La., offensive tackle Dwayne Fisher are also expected to be among the visitors.