Going back to quarterback Reggie Collier in the early 1980’s, D’Iberville has sent plenty of its football standouts to Southern Miss.
It looks like the Golden Eagles will add another to list.
Louis Paul Smith traveled to Hattiesburg on Saturday with an important message to relay to Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson. The D’Iberville junior center recently made the decision to verbally commit to the Golden Eagles and he wanted to relay the news personally at the team’s practice.
“He was super excited,” Smith said of Hopson’s reaction. “He was yelling and hooping. He was super excited. It made me feel really good as a player that Coach Hopson wanted me there. I’m excited.”
If he does sign with USM in December as planned, he will become the third D’Iberville product to ink with the team since 2016. Redshirt freshman defensive end Jacques Turner and freshman defensive back Tyler Barnes are both former Warriors.
The advice that Smith received from Turner and Barnes helped him make his decision.
“(Turner said) that the coaches will treat you fair and honest,” Smith said. “That was a big thing for me. I have four former teammates that I played with already up there. That was a definitely a big thing for me.”
The 6-foot-3, 294-pound Smith also holds scholarship offers from Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Troy, Southeastern Louisiana and Murray State.
Smith is regarded as one of the top centers in the state, but he’s much more than just another top prospect. He’s also a standout student at D’Iberville High School. He recently made a 33 on the ACT and carries a GPA of 4.0.
It was an official visit to USM about a month ago that helped Smith move closer to his verbal pledge.
“While I was there, the coaches made a point to talk to me and my family,” he said. “It really felt like home when I was there. That was the biggest factor that helped me decide to go there. I was also looking into their degrees and I saw I could go into the Polymer Science school and that was a big factor that made me decide.”
Smith said that the USM coaching staff sees him as an interior offensive lineman that could play either center or guard.
The short distance to Hattiesburg also played a role in Smith’s decision and that’s good news for his family.
“They were ecstatic,” he said. “My dad is a Southern Miss guy so he is very happy. My mom is happy with how close it is. My grandparents are super happy because they want to go to all of my home games.”
Smith has been on the radar of many of the region’s top college programs since he was a freshman so just getting a decision out of the way was a big step.
“It’s a huge sigh of relief,” he said. “I began my search when I was in ninth grade. It’s a big lift off my shoulders. It’s great. I feel so relieved. I thank God for putting me in this position.”
While Smith feels like his decision brings some finality to his recruitment, he’s still willing to listen to other schools.
“I’m not shutting it down completely,” he said. “I’d say right now that I’m happy with Southern Miss, but I’m open to talking with other schools. I’m very happy with Southern Miss.”