Keeping Score

Monken upbeat on new group of USM recruits, describes rough process

HATTIESBURG - This week was a trying one for Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken and his staff with several verbal commitments waffling late in the process, but the second-year coach was upbeat in talking about his new signees Wednesday.

Monken felt like this year's class meets most of the team's needs.

"I'm excited about the guys we have coming," Monken said. "It's been a long process that starts at least a year in advance of identifying the players you want as part of your program. The tough part is that we are looking for the same guys, every school is. You want big, fast, physical, smart. With that being said, there's a rush to those type of players. We're fired up about the guys we've got.

"It's been difficult at the end because you feel like you're under fire, you're under attack from programs coming after your players. It's a compliment to the young men we've been recruiting and the ones we've gotten committed. Now, the biggest thing is how do we do it better holding onto them? I'm fired up with the guys we have and it's another building block for this program."

Several former USM verbal commits had already changed their mind headed into signing day, and four more did so on Wednesday.

Pearl River CC safety Ty Northern switched to Memphis, Tuscaloosa, Ala., defensive lineman Torrence Brown signed with Penn State, Olive Branch offensive lineman Ronald Cochran signed with Mississippi State and J'Vonte Herrod changed to Conference USA foe Middle Tennessee.

The changes didn't make Wednesday any easier for Monken and his staff, he was happy with the group of signees as a whole.

"Not everybody you're looking at is Randy Moss," Monken said. "There's only a small percentage of no-brainers. With the rest, you evaluate your rear end off. You find out what their core values are. There were 21 un-ranked players in the Super Bowl and a certain number of free agents. There's not an exact science. You have to find out what a player is made of."

USM's Wednesday signees so far:

January Enrollee Thomas Collins | 6'4 320 OL Wayne County HS Waynesboro, Miss.

January Enrollee Picasso Nelson, Jr. | 5'11 180 DB Oak Grove HS Hattiesburg, Miss.

January Enrollee Norman Price | 6'5 315 OL Hinds CC Vicksburg, Miss.

January Enrollee Darian Yancey | 6'1 210 LB Auburn HS Auburn, Ala.

7:03 a.m. Aaron Harris | 6'0 225 LB Peachtree Ridge HS Norcross, Ga.

7:08 a.m. Daythan Davis | 6'1 235 H-Back Aledo HS Cresson, Texas

7:52 a.m. Walden Davis III | 5'10 190 DB Peachtree Ridge HS Suwannee, Ga.

8:05 a.m. Jayshawn Washington | 6'1 230 WR John Ehret HS Marrero, La.

8:18 a.m. Quade Alexander | 6'0 165 DB Florence HS Florence, Ala.

8:18 a.m. Ito Smith | 5'9 185 RB McGill-Toolen Catholic HS Semmes, Ala.

8:23 a.m. Hayden McMahan | 6'4 260 OL Faith Academy Wilmer, Ala.

8:54 a.m. Korey Robertson | 6'1 200 WR Greenwood HS Greenwood, Miss.

9:26 a.m. Jon Michael Edwards | 6'4 230 DE Carver HS Montgomery, Ala.

9:39 a.m. JT Williams | 6'2 290 DT Ryan HS Denton, Texas

10:16 a.m. Jeremy Sangster | 6'0 225 LB Louisville HS Louisville, Miss.

10:34 a.m. Gunner Roach | 6'1 180 QB UMS-Wright Prep Mobile, Ala.

10:35 a.m. Jordan Mitchell | 6'2 185 ATH Oak Grove HS Hattiesburg, Miss.

10:37 a.m. Curtis Mikell | 5'8 165 ATH Bassfield HS Bassfield, Miss.

10:52 a.m. Cornell Armstrong | 5'11 175 DB Bassfield HS Bassfield, Miss.

1:22 p.m. Xavier Marion | 6'0 185 DB Ridgeland HS Ridgeland, Miss.

1:37 p.m. Kyle Foster | 6'3 225 WR Dodge City CC Ann Arbor, Mich.