High school coaches across the state praised the hiring of Jay Hopson in February as the new Southern Miss football coach, pointing out his deep ties in the Magnolia State.
Hopson, who was hired away from Alcorn State, has long expressed a desire to focus on the keeping top talent in Mississippi.
Long Beach High School head coach Forrest Williams believes the Coast area is beginning to see a difference in attention from USM since Hopson's arrival in Hattiesburg.
“I know me and some of the other coaches (on the Coast) felt like Southern Miss overlooked players we knew could play at the collegiate level before Hopson got there,” Williams said Tuesday. “After (Jeff) Bower left, I thought there was a disconnect with (Larry) Fedora and Ellis (Johnson). They weren't recognizing good players in South Mississippi.
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“I think Jay and his staff do a good job. He's got connections.”
Laurel football coach Todd Breland also heaped praise on Hopson last week after his team beat Picayune 45-27 for the Class 5A South State title, saying that the new head coach is going to make sure South Mississippi will be well represented on the USM roster.
D'Iberville senior safety Tyler Barnes and Jones County Junior College freshman receiver Trevor Terry, a former Long Beach player, are two Coast natives who are currently committed to USM.
USM tight ends coach Desmond Lindsey has been the man tasked with recruiting the Coast area.
Other Coast high school players who have been awarded Southern Miss offers include: St. Stanislaus senior QB Myles Brennan, East Central senior OT Conner Estes, Gautier senior OT Paul Gainer, Pascagoula senior OL/DL James Jackson, Pascagoula senior DE Rasheed Jackson, Biloxi senior WR Tim Jones, St. Martin senior WR Kalem Reddix, Harrison Central senior QB Tavis Williams, St. Martin sophomore LB Dante Starks and D'Iberville sophomore center Louis Paul Smith.