Quarterbacks- Austin Davis has a tight grip on the quarterback position after a record setting freshman campaign. He led the team to five straight wins, including a win in the New Orleans Bowl. USM is very confident in the abilities of second string QB Bret Jefcoat as well. He will be a solid backup for Austin Davis this fall. Chris Campbell, a freshman QB out of Tennessee, could also factor in the mix as well.
Running Backs- Going in to the spring everyone has their eyes on the status of Damion Fletcher. He has been held out of spring practice due to off the field issues and it is unsure whether or not he will receive any additional punishment.
Behind Fletcher, USM has a nice mix of youth and experience to add depth to the running game. VJ Floyd and Tory Harrison return as the veterans of the team and could see a healthy amount of carries until the status of Fletcher is decided.
Kendrick Hardy could contribute right away as a third down and goal line back. Tracey Lampley is an interesting player to keep an eye on as well. He adds a lot of speed and open field running ability to an offense that loves those types of players.
Wide Receivers- If everyone's eyes are on Fletcher this spring, their hearts will be with Deandre Brown. The 6'6" sophomore out of Ocean Springs, MS suffered a gruesome leg break in the New Orleans Bowl. Although everyone is optimistic that he will make a full recovery by the time fall rolls around, everyone hopes that the injury will not affect his mental game.
Aside from Deandre, USM has a healthy core of WRs that they will turn to. Freddie Parham and Johdrick Morris should both see more playing time. Gerald Baptiste will continue to get his fair share of passes. Justin Jordan, a Juco out of Texas, should come in and see a significant amount of playing time.
Tight Ends- Southern Miss will have a difficult time replacing All-CUSA tight end Shawn Nelson. They will look to names like Jonathon Massey and David Rue to take the load for most of the season. Incoming freshman Jacoby Bell could also factor in to the mix assuming he meets NCAA freshman entrance requrements, but it is more likely that he will be moved to defense.
O-Line- USM's offensive line will need to find a plug for the hole left by the departure of Ryan Mckee. They will look to a mix of JUCO players like Ben Schoenberger and Trevor Newsom to fill that void. The rest of USM's line should remain intact. Calvin Wilson returns at the other tackle spot for the Eagles. Cameron Zipp will return as the center. Ryan Hebert and Alex Michael will return to the guard positions to fill out the rest of USM's line.
D-Line- USM's defensive line was noticeably inexperienced last year and it hopes that it will be more productive in its second year. Terrance Pope will most likely move to the interior part of the line to provide a solid rotation with Barragan and Gray; also it will make room for other players at the ends.
Willie Packer is another guy to keep an eye on. He was redshirted last year, but could definitely find himself in the mix. On the ends, Roshaad Byrd and Deddric Jones are the most experienced of the ones that will be competing for the starting jobs, but incoming freshman Octavious Thomas is likely to factor in and see some playing time early on.
Linebackers- Tumbo Abanikanda and Gerald McRath leave behind huge holes that the eagles will try to fill this coming up year. Korey Williams will most likely win one of the OLB jobs, with Brandon Davis stepping into the other one. The MLB spot is somewhat of a question coming into the spring, but JUCO transfer Hendrick Leverette could see a significant amount of playing time there.
Secondary- The secondary of USM will have plenty of new faces to go along with a nice veteran core. Chico Hunter and Eddie Hicks will anchor the two safety spots, while Andre Watson, Michael Mcgee, and CJ Bailey will compete with a plethora of incoming freshman for time at the corner position. Gerald West, a highly touted recruit out of Alabama will come in and factor in early. Deron Wilson and Jaime Collins will also have their opportunity to win some playing time when they arrive in the fall.