Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson now has all the pieces in place for his offensive staff.
Former Arkansas State outside receivers coach Chris Buckner has been tabbed as USM’s new running backs coach and Reed Stringer will take on the role of tight ends coach, Hopson confirmed to the Sun Herald Thursday.
Buster Faulkner and Ryan Stanchek were hired last month to handle the roles of offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Inside receivers coach Scotty Walden is the only offensive holdover from the 2018 staff with co-offensive coordinator recently added to his job title.
Buckner follows Faulkner from Arkansas State, where the two worked together for one season. Buckner joined Faulkner, who was at ASU for three seasons, with the Red Wolves after spending two years as the offensive coordinator at Div. II Western New Mexico.
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Prior to Western New Mexico, Buckner was the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at North Carolina Central from 2014-15. He also worked on the staffs at Savannah State in 2013 (co-offensive coordinator) and Jackson State (receivers and tight ends) in 2011-12.
Buckner is a native of Arlington, Texas, who played receiver and defensive back at New Mexico State from 2006-09.
Stringer’s elevation to tight ends coach comes as no surprise after he spent the 2018 season working with the USM staff in an off-field capacity. He is regarded as a gifted recruiter who helped turn around the Louisiana-Lafayette football program under former head coach Mark Hudspeth as assistant head coach and tight ends coach from 2011-17.
Stringer, a Delta State graduate and Canton native, served on the Clemson staff in 2010 and worked as the tight ends/special teams coach from 2005-08.
USM had four departures from the USM offensive staff after the 2018 campaign:
▪ Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson left to join the Houston staff.
▪ Running backs coach Les Koenning stepped down to become Les Miles’ offensive coordinator at Kansas.
▪ Tight ends coach Brock Hays was hired by Conference USA rival Louisiana Tech to coach running backs.
▪ Offensive line coach Erik Losey was let go after two seasons at USM.
The new staff will look to turn around an offense that struggled to run the ball in 2018, averaging just 112.6 yards a game on the ground and 3.1 yards a carry.
USM is set to return 10 offensive starters from the 2018 season. However, leading receiver Quez Watkins has work to do to become academically eligible for the 2019 season.