LB Gerald McRath

2007 Statistics

Coach: Larry Fedora
1st year
2007 Record: 7-6
at Tennessee LOST 19-39
at East Carolina WON 28-21
at Boise State LOST 16-38
SMU WON 28-7
at Marshall WON 33-24
UCF LOST 17-34
at UAB WON 37-7
at UTEP WON 56-30
Cincinnati LOST 21-31

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

We hear the term ‘jump start’ quite often used to describe a productive turnaround in gridiron activity for a given team. That term will be literalized when Southern Mississippi steps onto the field August 30th against Louisiana-Lafayette. Larry Fedora took the fast track to becoming the 18th head coach here. He brings a progressive offensive mindset from his stays at Florida and Oklahoma State that has consistently proven its worth. Fedora grabbed Arizona’s passing game coordinator, whiz-kid Darrell Wyatt, as his OC… see, the thing is, Fedora and Wyatt have each never coached at their current level(s), respectively. That fact aside, the talent is in place to make these Golden Eagles an offensive juggernaut as quickly as the above-listed schools Fedora has jump started in the past.

Ok, so finding the right quarterback will go the farthest toward turning USM’s profile on its ear. Hattiesburg is the place where, when mentioned, BCS-level defenses are conjured way more often than awing offensive displays are to earn the ‘W’. Austin Davis proved this spring and summer that he deserves the first shot under center, but he and current backup Martevious Young are anything but veterans. Fedora creates balanced, no-huddle attacks that are designed to get the Golden Eagle offense on and then off of the field as quickly as possible. At Oklahoma State, his offense has been the only member of the 200-200 club for the past two years…the Cowboys averaged that many yards per game rushing and passing!

"We are going to be in a hurry up tempo," Fedora added. "We are going to move during practice and we are going to coach on the run. We are going to get on and off that field." Smallish Damion Fletcher proved he can take the abuse of a workhorse back; he is the top returning back in the C-USA and the top of a demure-but-ready RB unit. The line is a work in progress, a good trait that can tie together the newer schemes with the other new faces and develop together naturally (more naturally than linemen who are used to one way and cannot adapt, regardless of their prior results). The greener WRs have learned the same quick way, and the reborn offense here is greased for success.

The team’s signature dimension also looks strong under the new staff. MLB Gerald McGrath is the reigning CUSA Defensive Player of the Year. The entire corps will be tested since the line has four new starters. Solid DBs mean the linebackers can lend a hand without putting undue strain on the (underneath) coverage and/or other back seven responsibilities. Todd Bradford is also a first-time coach at this (coordinator) level, so the brain trust in Hattiesburg will sink or swim based on pure ability. Now you see why it is so hard to predict where this team may go, and just how they wind up getting there.

The schedule is split into two halves – the first half features non-con powerhouses (at) Auburn and Boise State; only two of the first six games are away, while the last six games are all intra-league, and four are outside the 39406 zip code. East Carolina is the toughest C-USA foe at this preseason juncture, but the wacky way this conference usually plays out precludes predictions from holding much water. A solid defense would be enough to secure the Golden Eagles a spot in the league’s championship game (12-6-08). USM may even do what many others have (and they’ve never) done to take the conference crown – ride an unstoppable offense and make sure they score last to assure the win(s). Revamping this team may take less time than many think, and recognizing the Southern Miss we’ve all come to love and respect may be tough after Fedora is done this off-season.

Projected 2008 record: 7-5
RB Damion Fletcher
QB - 2 DL - 2.5
RB - 4 LB - 4
WR - 3.5 DB - 3
OL - 3 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: None

Rushing: Damion Fletcher, 295 att., 1586 yds., 15 TD

Receiving: Torris Magee, 44 rec., 632 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: Damion Fletcher, 15 TD, 1 two-pt. conv., 92 pts.

Punting: Britt Barefoot, 48 punts, 42.5 avg.

Kicking: Justin Estes, 15-22 FG, 39-41 PAT, 84 pts.

Tackles: Gerald McRath, 139 tot., 72 solo

Sacks: Gerald McRath, 4.5 sacks

Interceptions: Eddie Hicks, 3 for 16 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Justin Wilson, 2 ret., 31.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: None


OFFENSE: Jeremy Young-QB, Stephen Reaves-QB, Marcus Raines-FB, Chris Johnson-WR, Chris Clark-OG, Rick Thompson-C, Nick Dean-OG
DEFENSE: Matthew Chatelain-DE, Sean Merrill-NT, Martavius Prince-DT, Robert Henderson-DE, James Denley-SLB, Brandon Sumrall-CB, LeVance Richmond-ROV

Wipe the slate clean. Coach Fedora is the guy responsible for the most balanced attack in I-A history – at Oklahoma State, his 2007 squad earned 3,161 yards in each major category, both rushing and passing the ball. In fact, only Fedora’s OSU offense achieved averaging 200 yards per game in both running and passing dimensions over the past two years. In the SEC (OC at Florida in 2004), his offense in 2004 led the league in six different categories under then-head man Ron Zook. Now, Fedora props Arizona’s former passing game coordinator – Darrell Wyatt – as the guy in charge of fine-tuning his plans. Part of the slate being wiped clean is that none (but one) of the current QBs has ever thrown a single collegiate pass. Austin Davis has shown the most adaptability to the scheme(s) being implemented with his mobility and accurate arm. Not a rope thrower, Davis can grow to become a local hero. So could Martevious Young. A broken leg on the third play of the Rice tilt meant Young couldn’t play again until this spring. His size, accuracy and decision-making aren’t as far Davis’s are, but he has just as much potential to make the offense hum under his guidance.

The new offense will have Damion Fletcher thriving. A great all-around back, Fletcher could only pull down second team all-conference status due to UCF’s Smith (2,567) and Tulane’s Forté (2,127) both being the main CUSA studs. Hey, 1,586 yards was the third-most for all sophomore FBS runners and ranked 13th for all FBS backs, so USM has a weapon in this Biloxi product. The next back in line has become walk-on Bubba Kirksey due to dismissals. V.J. Floyd is the incumbent backup, but all three backs are sub-200lbs. As is Desmond Johnson, an in-state phenom looking to redshirt if those ahead of him remain healthy. Bigger fullbacks (like Hurd, Barton and/or Bryant) can be employed if two backs are needed.

The passing game will explode if the schemes seen in Oklahoma City find some steady targets. WR Torris Magee is an elusive runner, whether given the ball or catching it. Baptiste has an underneath tag since he isn’t as strong coming off the line. Nelson is a proven weapon further downfield, and his constant distraction will help Fedora’s plans find fruition. The new receiver threats are five-star DeAndre Brown (6’6) and JUCO speedster Freddie Parham (4.38 speed and 42” vertical leap).

The linemen are strong on the outside and young (but somewhat tested) in the middle. Wilson and McKee are on different ends of the spectrum; Wilson won’t be pulling too much with his size/power, while McKee is athletic and sized (6’6) to control his man on the move. Housley has some starting experience, but Hebert is still green enough to have uncertainty hover over his expectations. Sophomores Zipp and Michaels are also concerns. Depth isn’t bad, but the rigors of the no-huddle seen so far have shown hot-and-cold results. Breaking the 2007 school record of 5,066 yards could be an afterthought if all of the elements come together.


TE Shawn Nelson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Austin Davis-Fr (6-2, 205) Martevious Young-So (6-1, 185)
FB Josh Barton-Jr (5-11, 221) Josh Hurd-So (6-0, 214)
RB Damion Fletcher-Jr (5-10, 175) Bubba Kirksey-Jr (5-10, 180)
WR Torris Magee-So (6-2, 204) Chris Rhoden-Sr (6-4, 194)
WR Gerald Baptiste-Jr (6-0, 171) Ed Morgan-Sr (5-9, 160)
TE Shawn Nelson-Sr (6-5, 240) Jonathan Massey-So (6-3, 250)
OT Calvin Wilson-Jr (6-6, 352) Jimmy Driskell-Sr (6-2, 307)
OG Wesley Housley-Jr (6-2, 293) R.J. Brown-Jr (6-3, 300)
C Cameron Zipp-So (6-1, 289) Alex Michael-So (6-2, 310)
OG Ryan Hebert-Jr (6-5, 305) James Brady-Fr (6-4, 275)
OT Ryan McKee-Jr (6-6, 275) Brennan Houston-Jr (6-4, 301)
K Britt Barefoot-Sr (6-0, 181) Justin Estes-So (5-9, 160)



Todd Bradford has done on this side of the ball what he did when he rose to become the offensive coordinator at BYU. Coming from Oklahoma State also, Bradford is in his first defensive coordinators assignment, but learning on the job has usually worked for the Southern Utah graduate. We tell you all of this because it reveals what a well-rounded football mind Bradford brings. That’s important in a place where defense is king.

Boyce has the 6’7 frame for disrupting passing lanes, but he seems quicker than he seems stout. Byrd will make more noise in run stuffing. Gray will do the same inside with his 300+ girth, and in a year when foes will be tempted to run on four new starters, this is important. Phillips has the same 6’7 frame as Boyce, but that isn’t good when plying inside for getting low and therefore being effective. Barragan could easily displace Phillips by mid-September with his upside quickly being found at this level (JUCO transfer).

These guys will need the linebackers help, and Gerald McGrath seems to have enough tackling ability to go around if needed. Abanikanda uses his smallish size to its optimal affect; his coverage skills are excellent, and he has a knack for getting into opponent’s backfields. The other Davis from Meridian – Brandon – is an ex-DB with 4.4 speed who accentuates the LBs’ speed and ranginess. Depth, like Davis, is somewhat green for what the rigors of CUSA offenses deliver. As usual, the Golden Eagle corps will be one of the nation’s best, even if undersized.

Moss Point’s C.J. Bailey surprised many with his breakout Freshman All-American efforts. Starting 10 games in ‘07, Bailey seems like he can lockdown any team’s best WR once back from shoulder surgery (out this spring). Willingham is the smaller of the two, and his skills against bigger WRs may make room for 5’10 McGee to try his stuff. Wilson is as much of a ball-hawk as incumbent Hicks, but Wilson has to displace Hunter if he wants to start again (three starts as a frosh). Wilson as a nickel seems like a certainty.


FS Eddie Hicks


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE David Boyce-So (6-6, 243) Andrew Burns-Fr (6-4, 245)
NT Eric Phillips-Sr (6-7, 280) Logan Hickman-Fr (6-3, 265)
DT Anthony Gray-So (6-0, 311) Rolando Barragan-Jr (6-3, 295)
ROCK Roshaad Byrd-So (6-3, 258) Codarro Law-Fr (6-2, 230)
SLB Brandon Davis-Jr (6-1, 205) Tim Green-Fr (6-3, 190)
MLB Gerald McRath-Jr (6-3, 220) Jerome Lyons-Sr (6-1, 224)
WLB Tokumbo Abanikanda-Sr (6-0, 217) Korey Williams-Fr (6-2, 220)
CB Eddie Willingham-Sr (5-10, 179) Paul Inoa-Sr (5-11, 183)
CB Michael McGee-Jr (5-10, 181) C.J. Bailey-So (5-10, 182)
BS Chico Hunter-So (6-0, 190) Cameron O'Neal-Fr (6-0, 180)
FS Eddie Hicks-Jr (6-2, 185) Justin Wilson-So (5-11, 185)
P Britt Barefoot-Sr (6-0, 181) Brett Hicks-Sr (6-0, 185)




Britt Barefoot appropriately has multiple kicking duties. His naked power is the team’s biggest leg and a reason Barefoot’s brought in on the longer kicking tries (made his only try, a 51-yard conversion, in ’07). Justin Estes is brought in for accuracy and to give Barefoot a rest. Speedy Parham and Morgan will try their sure hands at the vaunted return jobs.