Coach: Jeff Bower
73-52-1, 12 years
2001 Record: 6-5
at Louisiana-Lafayette WON 35-10
at Memphis LOST 17-22
at Louisville LOST 14-24
at Penn State LOST 20-38
at East Carolina WON 28-21
at Alabama LOST 15-28

2001 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

Terrell Paul, an All-Conference USA performer last season, should be in for his best years yet at the bandit end position.
2002 Outlook

Hattiesburg is a football town. Preseason expectations eternally flow towards bowl bids and conference titles. The televised loss to TCU at the close of last fall ended the Golden Eagle's streak of four-straight bowl games, and the streak of five straight seasons of seven or more victories also was snapped. In a football town, disappointment naturally followed. But it didn't take very long to regroup and dig for the optimism that was obvious for the 2002 season. One gets the feeling that USM fans, coaches, and players are very eager to prove that 2001 was not a common theme. Southern Miss has 45 letter winners, including 18 starters from last season returning and also added one of the best signing classes in the school's history. With the plethora of talent returning, there still exists questions that need answered. Who is driving the ship at quarterback would be for starters? Special teams are a dire need of concern as well as locating depth in many areas. A very nice home schedule exists, which should make life a little sweeter in this industrious southern town. The season starts with three home dates and coaches have stated that this may be the best home schedule they have ever had. Four of the six teams visiting were bowl teams last year. has been saying for years that USM is one tough, nitty-gritty football squad that never quits. Bank on the fact that you are guaranteed to get a game for four quarters when lining up against Jeff Bower coached teams. Winning with under rated talent has been a staple over the past decade on quite a few occasions. Imagine the realm of possibilities with the personnel awaiting the coaching staff for 2002. Conf USA is a two-team battle between USM and Louisville on paper. Better mark that ESPN Thursday night tussle slated for Hattiesburg. With the opportunistic views, anything less than an eight-win bowl season would be sickening. No need to call the doctor.

Projected 2002 record: 9-4

QB - 2.5 DL - 4
RB - 4 LB - 4
WR - 4 DB - 3.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Micky D'Angelo, 3-8-0, 44 Yards, 1 TD

Rushing: James Walley, 80 att., 245 yds., 3 TD's

Receiving: LeRoy Handy, 59 rec., 823 yds., 3 TD's

Scoring: 3 players with 18 points each

Punting: Mark Haulman, 65 punts, 42.3 avg.

Kicking: Curtis Jones, 1-1 FG, 3-3 PAT, 6 pts.

Tackles: Rod Davis, 94 tot., 63 solo

Sacks: Terrell Paul, 6 sacks

Interceptions: Greg Brooks, 3 for 0 yds.; Leroy Johnson, 3 for 0 yds.

Kickoff returns: Chris Johnson, 14 ret., 22.1 avg.

Punt returns: Kenneth Johnson, 13 ret., 5.9 avg.


USM linebackers will have All-American Rod Davis in the middle.


OFFENSE: Jeff Kelly-QB, Dawayne Woods-RB, Dannye Fowler-WR, Kendrick Key-OG, Brant Hanna-K
DEFENSE: Roy Magee-WLB, Chad Williams-SS

By: Southern Miss Athletics Office

With nine starters, including the return of a healthy Derrick Nix, and 20 letterwinners returning this season, optimism abounds on the offensive side of the ball. "We had a lot of young players get a lot of playing time last year," Offensive Coordinator Chris Klenakis said. "For example, James Walley and all the young receivers who may not have started but sure played a lot of football. Another example is Terrell Browden, who is not a starter but has seen a lot of time on the field. We are very excited and have high expectations for this group, and we have let this group know that its time for them to get it done." As the offense gained experience last year, improvement was evident as the season progressed. In the last six games, the offense averaged 32 points a game and almost 400 yards a game of total offense. In order for the offense to continue the upward climb of success, a quarterback has to emerge. With the loss of three-year starter Jeff Kelly, the Southern Miss offense will have a brand-new signal-caller when it takes the field for the season opener in the fall. Vying for the starting position is a trio of young players, including two redshirt-sophomores and one redshirt-freshman. While the Golden Eagles will enter the 2002 season without its leading rusher of a year ago, the team will have the services of Derrick Nix, an All-American candidate, who was twice named to the All-Conference USA team, as well as being named to the Southern Miss Team of the Century. Nix, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, has been battling injury and kidney ailments for the past two seasons. Because of that, Nix was redshirted last year, and returns for his final season looking to leave his final mark in the Southern Miss record books. The offensive line may be one of the most experienced positions on the Southern Miss offense. Led by returning starters Jeremy Bridges, Jim Hicks, Torrin Tucker and Jason Jimenez, the offensive line has 92 career starts under its belt. Although the receiving corps has just one senior in its lineup, the wideouts aren't lacking in experience. Led by senior LeRoy Handy, four returning starters grace the receiver positions, and a number of young players also have seen action. The coaching staff came out of spring drills pleased with the continued progress that was made. Even though a starting quarterback has not been named, all three have shown that each has specific abilities that can help the team be successful. Starters lost from last year include three-year starting quarterback Jeff Kelly, running back Dawayne Woods and offensive lineman Kendrick Key. Kelly completed 214-of-362 passes for 2,613 yards and threw for 15 touchdowns. He finished his career as one of the top three in the school's career passing charts in most categories and was drafted in the seventh round by the Seattle Seahawks. Woods led the team in rushing yards, carrying the ball 140 times for 594 yards, a 4.2-yard per carry average, and scoring nine touchdowns. Key was a two-year starter, who provided leadership and experience on the line. Punter Mark Haulman, an All-Conference USA candidate, returns for his senior season but a new kicker will have to emerge. There are several candidates for the return positions and the coaching staff is trying to fit the best talent in the different special team phases.


Returning Starters in Bold
QB Micky D'Angelo-So Zac White-So / Dustin Almond-Fr
RB Derrick Nix-Sr James Walley-So
WR LeRoy Handy-Sr Marvin Young-So
WR Rocky Harrison-So Kenneth Johnson-Jr
WR Chris Johnson-So Naton Stewart-Fr
TE Bobby Garner-Sr Terrell Browden-Jr
OT Jeremy Bridges-Sr Neal Mead-Fr
OG Jeremy Parquet-So Buck Miciotto-Sr
C Jim Hicks-Jr Addaryl Edwards-So
OG Torrin Tucker-Sr Bradley Worthington-Fr
OT Jason Jimenez-Sr Myron Powe-So
K Curtis Jones-Sr ..



By: Southern Miss Athletics Office

Mix a young, energetic defensive coordinator with a veteran defensive staff and throw in eight returning starters and 24 returning lettermen from a 2001 defense that was nationally ranked in several key categories, and it isn't hard to understand why Golden Eagle fans look forward to the 2002 season with both excitement and optimism. The defensive coordinator is Tyrone Nix, who, even at his young age, has a solid Southern Miss background to go with a growing national reputation for fielding attacking, hard-nosed defenses. Nix, who last season was the youngest coordinator in Division 1-A, was an outstanding player at Southern Miss. Last year's defense finished the season ranked eighth in scoring defense, 11th in total defense, 12th in pass efficiency defense, 13th in rushing defense, and 21st in turnover margin, numbers that have become almost commonplace for Golden Eagle defenses. In addition, both Leroy Johnson and Greg Brooks were ranked nationally in the interceptions category. Assistant Head Coach Butler sees a lot of pluses when he looks at his defensive line talent. "Our objectives during the spring were to solidify our depth inside at nose and tackle," he said. "I think we did that". Magee, a 2001 Freshman All-America selection by The Sporting News, is a fixture at the nose spot. Rayshun Jones (6-3, 288, r-Sr.), an All-Conference USA candidate, is slated to start at the defensive tackle spot. He started all 11 games and finished as the sixth-leading tackler on the squad last season. Terrell Paul, an All-Conference USA performer last season and All-American candidate in 2002, should be in for his best years yet at the bandit end position. He led the team in quarterback sacks with six and was second on the team in tackles for loss with 11. The second line of defense, the linebackers, will miss Magee, but will have All-American Davis in the middle with Henley, an All-Conference USA candidate, on one side and Michael Boley (6-3, 207, r-So.), replacing Magee, on the other side. At the boundary corner, first-team All-Conference USA and All-American candidate Greg Brooks returns for his junior season. He finished as the school's single-season pass breakup leader with 18. Corey Yates (5-10, 170, r-Sr.) was the other starter at boundary corner when the 2001 season started but a knee injury against Oklahoma State the season opener ended his year. Pruitt returns as the starter at free safety this season. He started all 11 games last season and developed a reputation as one of the hardest hitters on the team. He finished as the second leading tackler on the team with 82 tackles, including 59 unassisted.


Returning Starters in Bold
DE Darris McKenzie-Jr Seante Williams-Jr
NT Skylor Magee-So Chad Ruffin-So
DT Rayshun Jones-Sr Eric Scott-So
BAN Terrell Paul-Jr LaVon Pears-So
SLB Joe Henley-Sr Kevis Coley-Fr
MLB Rod Davis-Jr Dillon Cleckler-Fr
WLB Michael Boley-So Chris Vaughn-Sr
CB Leroy Johnson-Sr Tootie Myers-Fr
CB Greg Brooks-Jr Corey Yates-Sr
SS Alex Ray-Jr Darrell Bennett-So
FS Etric Pruitt-Jr Antoine Cash-So
P Mark Haulman-Sr ..
Derrick Nix, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, has been battling injury and kidney ailments for the past two seasons. - (AP Photo)