A strong national signing day for the Southern Miss staff got even better Wednesday evening.
USM received some good news that afternoon when Gautier offensive lineman Paul Gainer announced he was picking the Golden Eagles over Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette.
At 6 p.m., USM announced that it had also signed athlete Jaylond Adams of Minor High School in Adamsville, Ala.
While wearing a Troy hat earlier in the day during a signing ceremony, Adams announced that he was going to join the Trojans.
By Wednesday evening, Adams was a Golden Eagle.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Adams was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama for the 2016 season and was also named First-Team All-American by Parade Magazine.
Adams, who played running back and returned kicks, led the Minor High School to its first 11-win season in school history. As a senior, he had 2,638 all-purpose yards, including 1,502 yards on 76 catches and 725 yards on 86 carries.
Adams, who also had offers from Iowa State, Rutgers and Indiana, joins Clinton's Darius Maberry as a play-making running back in this year's USM class.
The other RB
Maberry was overshadowed somewhat by the Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year Cam Akers, a Florida State signee, at Clinton, but USM head coach Jay Hopson feels like he landed a potentially special player.
“We feel like we got a real good one,” Hopson said. “Cam certainly had a great career and will do great things at Florida State. If you put them on the line and raced a 50-yard dash, I know where I'd put my money at - on the one wearing the black and gold.”
The class of 2017 was heavy on offensive linemen, defensive linemen and defensive backs.
The only true receivers in this year's group hail from the Coast – Biloxi's Tim Jones and Trevor Terry of Long Beach.
USM signed five offensive linemen and it may be the strongest group of the class. USM likely landed immediate help on the line in Tyler Junior College transfer Jimmie Terry, a 6-foot-3, 330-pound former Madison Central standout. He was a Minnesota commit before a coaching change put him back on the market in January.
“He's a physical guy that can drive people off the ball,” Hopson said.
With Nick Mullens graduating and Parker Adamson not returning for his fifth year, USM had to add quarterbacks in this class and did so with Marcelo Rodriguez of Miami, Fla., and Steven Anderson of Suwannee, Fla. They will join sophomore Keon Howard and redshirt junior Kwadra Griggs in the hunt for the No. 1 jump in fall camp.
Hopson believes he found a gem in Rodriquez, who mostly flew under the radar in high school and the 6-foot-2, 242-pound Anderson, who flipped from Georgia Southern, may be the biggest quarterback to ever step on campus at USM.
“I think both of them do things strong,” Hopson said. “It's going to be fun to watch them battle. Marcelo came to camp and just did a tremendous job throwing the ball. When you look at Steven, he does kind of remind me (former NFL quarterback David Garrard) – strong, 6-3, 245 pounds playing quarterback and throws the ball extremely well. He's smart. He's durable. There's nothing you can't do with him. You see Marcel throw the ball and it comes out hot. He can really rip it.
“Those are two guys that are competitors and you can throw them into the mix with the two guys here.”