Southern Miss

Report: Southern Miss hires former Kentucky OC Shannon Dawson

UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson throws prior to the University of Kentucky-Missouri football game at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, September 26, 2015. Photo by Ken Weaver
UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson throws prior to the University of Kentucky-Missouri football game at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, September 26, 2015. Photo by Ken Weaver Ken Weaver

Three new additions to Jay Hopson's football staff at Southern Miss came to light on Thursday, including a new offensive coordinator.

Former Kentucky and West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson has been hired to the same position at USM, according to USA Today and Fox Sports.

The Sun Herald has confirmed that he will be joined at USM by Northwest Mississippi Community College head coach Jack Wright, who will serve as offensive line coach. He informed members of his NWCC staff Wednesday night that he is leaving for USM.

The third new staff member reported to be joining Hopson at USM is his former defensive line coach at Alcorn State, Derek Nicholson, according to The Clarion-Ledger.

Dawson was fired after one season as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Kentucky in 2015. He was also the offensive coordinator for West Virginia under Dana Holgorsen from 2012-14 and was the Mountaineers' receivers coach in 2011.

Dawson served as offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin (2008-10) and Millsaps (2006-07).

Dawson will have a shot at revenge the next two seasons with the Golden Eagles traveling to Kentucky to open the 2016 season on Sept. 3 and Kentucky making the trip to Hattiesburg to open the 2017 campaign.

This will be the second time that Wright and Dawson have worked on the same staff. Both men worked together at Division III Millsaps.

Wright led NWCC to the junior college national championship in 2015 in just his second season on the job. Wright took over a team that finished 1-8 in 2013 and the Rangers went 15-7 in his two years on the job.

Nicholson, a former Florida State linebacker, coached outside linebackers and defensive ends at Louisville in 2014 and linebackers at Akron in 2012-13.

Hopson retained two of Monken's former staff members, offensive coordinator John Wozniak and secondary coach Lytrel Pollard, when he conducted interviews with holdovers from Monken's staff a week ago.

It's unclear what positions Wozniak and Pollard will hold on Hopson's new staff.

It was first reported by FootballScoop.com late Thursday morning that Monken's offensive line coach at USM, Luke Meadows, will not be returning for a third season at Southern Miss.

It's unclear where USM defensive coordinator David Duggan may fit in on Hopson's staff at Southern Miss. Duggan interviewed with Hopson last week along with the rest of Monken's former assistants.

Multiple reports indicate former Alcorn State defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro is set to join Hopson's staff as well.

On offense, Dawson will inherit one of the nation's top returning quarterbacks at USM in rising senior Nick Mullens, who set several single-season records for the program in 2015. He passed for 4,476 yards, 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a junior during a 9-5 season.

Dawson, a native of Clinton, La., worked with former star recruit Patrick Towles as his quarterback at Kentucky. Towles never reached his potential with the Wildcats and transferred to Boston College following a disappointing 5-7 season in 2015.

Dawson's best year as an offensive coordinator at the FBS level was his first at West Virginia in 2012 when quarterback Geno Smith passed for 4,205 yards, 42 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Mountaineers' struggles on defense limited the team to a 7-6 record that season.

In 2009 and 2010, Stephen F. Austin led the nation in passing yards with Dawson serving as the team's offensive coordinator.

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