The current class fills some immediate needs as well as provides depth for the future. There are several immediate needs on the offensive line. Losing four senior offensive lineman means playing time will be up for grabs. "It was a huge hole for us. We went into it saying that we needed to sign at least five. It would be a pipe dream to get and find five quality guys that we would be able to get in on," he said.
Continuing about the offensive line, he said, "We felt very fortunate because we were able to get two big junior college tackles who were able to get into school and be with us right now, and we were able to go get four high school guys that we think are going to be quality offensive linemen here in the future."
As I have talked with this current recruiting class, it was clear this was a group that that takes some leadership because of who they are as people. Fedora commented, "I think these guys have great character. We've got great relationships with them," he said.
"They are extremely excited about Southern Miss. We had the majority of them up in one weekend so they got to know each other. Their families got to know each other which if you think about it is a neat experience because they are already building relationships with other parents," he said
Coach Fedora also took the time to talk about some individual players who inked today with USM.
On Ocean Spring's Allen Howze: "Howze is going straight to the defensive side. He's either going to play linebacker for us or a safety. We had him in camp and had him go with the linebackers there. He's 6-foot-2, 210 lbs., and he can run. He's athletic. He's a great kid with good grades. (Southern Miss linebacker coach) David Duggan really liked him over on that side and wants him on defense so that's where we are going to start him out at," Fedora said.
On Oak Grove's Steve McNair: "Because of my son (Dillon) going to school at Oak Grove, I was able to see three or four games there. What amazed me about Steve was that he started at wide receiver and then moved to running back and then to quarterback. He moved to free safety. He moved to corner. He was the punt returner. He was the kickoff returner. He did it all. There were games when they were behind and had lost their quarterback and he had to do things that I know he didn't expect to do this season. He brought them from behind and won a lot of games. He just showed a lot of heart and a lot of desire. We're going to start him off as a slot receiver and see where it goes from there, but I just think he makes our football team that much better just being on our team because of his will to succeed," he said.
In speaking about two corners, an area in need of an upgrade, Fedora said, "Corner is a big deal for us. We needed corners and we felt like we got three corners who are going to come in [and contribute]. Reggie Hunt out of Co-Lin who is from Daphne, Ala., and then you have Furious Bradley from down here on the coast at Harrison Central," he said.
On Hoover, Alabama's Alex Walters: "Then there is Alexander Walters as a corner from over in Tuscaloosa, Ala., who is a track guy. He's 5-foot-11, 185 lbs. and runs a 4.4 and he's very athletic. We had him in camp," he said.
On Laurel's Dasman McCullum: "Dasman is a guy who has flown under the radar," Fedora said. "He's every bit of 6'5, whose 220 pounds and he's skinny. When he fills out, he'll be a 250lb. defensive end who can run and make plays. We are excited about him," he said.
On Fairhope, Alabama's Jamal Woodyard: "I think he played in four games before he broke his ankle and had 1,500 yards. People slowed down on him. Now, they didn't slow down on him this week. They were all over him this week. We had to fight like all get out to hang onto him and even though there might have been some schools he had dreamed about playing at, he stuck with his commitment," he said.
It is obviously too early to compare the first two classes of the Larry Fedora era to the current one, but it certainly will be one that will pay immediate dividends. "Probably the first class obviously had more headliners in it, but it wasn't a class that we go to truly evaluate for a long period of time. We just went after the list of the guys that were the best players," he said.
He added, "It's a class that's going to fill some holes for us." Overall, the third class in the Coach Fedora era has fans buzzing and is making some waves nationally. While not the flashiest class, it is one that should continue the Southern Miss winning tradition in the future, and be a cornerstone for the classes to come.
Oh by the way, the work for the class of 2011 begins today.