HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Southern Miss football and new head coach Jay Hopson announced its 2016 recruiting class. Seventeen student-athletes committed to play football for Southern Miss. The class includes — Cru Birdyshaw (Jasper, Ala.), Racheem Boothe (Bassfield, Miss.), Lorenzo Dantzler (Starkville, Miss.), Kwadra Griggs (Greenwood, Miss.), Andre Hale II (Orlando, Fla.), Keon Howard (Laurel, Miss.), Jacob Johnson (Spanish Fort, Ala.), Isaiah Jones (Milton, Fla.), Demetrius Market (Batesville, Miss.), T.J. McGinnis (Sandhill, Miss.), Tarvarius Moore (Quitman, Miss.), Wyatt Richthofen (New Iberia, La.), Demarrio Smith (Canton, Miss.), Shannon Smith (Macon, Ga.), Allenzae Staggers (Woodville, Miss.), Jacques Turner (D’Iberville, Miss.), and Quez Watkins (Athens, Ala.).
Cru Birdyshaw (OL | 6-7 | 297 | Fr. | HS | Jasper, Ala. | Walker HS)
• As a senior, helped Walker High School gain nearly 2,400 yard passing and 1,000 yards rushing while winning a Regional Championship, reaching the second round of the Alabama 6A Playoffs (10-3)
Racheem Boothe (LB | 6-0 | 210 | Fr. | HS | Bassfield, Miss. | Bassfield HS)
• 3-Star recruit (247sports.com) … As a senior, recorded 101 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions for 118 yards, six sacks and 18 quarterback hurries on defense, while hauling in 15 receptions for 431 yards and seven touchdowns offensively … Played in 2015 Mississippi / Alabama All-Star Game … As a junior, recorded 143 tackles with 16 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, a sack and seven passes defended … Four-time Mississippi 2A State Champion
Lorenzo Dantzler (DL | 6-1 | 221 | Fr. | HS | Starkville, Miss. | Starkville HS)
• 3-Star recruit (247sports.com; ESPN.com) … 2015 Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game participant and Mississippi 6A State Champion … As a senior, registered 53 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, two passes defended, one interception, five forced fumbles, and one fumble recovered … As a junior, notched 33 tackles, seven tackles for loss, five sacks, two fumble recoveries, and one fumble recovered … As a sophomore, recorded 31 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble.
Kwadra Griggs (QB | 6-3 | 225 | Jr. | TR | Greenwood, Miss. | Itawamba CC)
• At Itawamba in 2015, played in 10 games, going 199-for-333 (.598) for 2,138 yards (213.8 yards per game) and 18 touchdowns … As a true freshman, went 87-for-160 (.544) for 1,062 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games … In high school, finished with 444 completions in 787 attempts (.564) for 6,538 yards (204.3 yards per game) with 56 passing touchdowns in three seasons … Rushed for 370 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and 14 TDs … Also played baseball.
Andre Hale II (RB | 5-9 | 194 | Fr. | HS | Orlando, Fla. | Lake Nona HS)
• 2-Star recruit (247sports.com) … Rushed for 2,416 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and 27 rushing touchdowns (33 total TDs) in first three seasons at Lake Nona HS … As a senior, played more of a receiving role, averaging 9.4 yards a reception with three touchdowns while still rushing for nearly 500 yards and one rushing score … As a junior, rushed for 958 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 9.2 yards a carry while also notching 187 yards receiving with five receiving touchdowns … Posted five games with 100+ yards rushing in 11 games as a junior … Rushed for 728 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore and 730 yards and eight TDs as a freshman.
Keon Howard (QB | 6-0 | 221 | Fr. | HS | Laurel, Miss. | Laurel HS)
• 3-Star recruit (247sports.com) … 2015 Mississippi / Alabama All-Star Game … 2015 Dandy Dozen selection … Finished high school career with 12,887 total yards (nearly 240 yards per game) over four years of varsity football … As a senior, passed for 3,317 yards and 43 touchdowns, while rushing for 456 yards with three rushing scores … As a junior, recorded 3,631 yards in the air with 38 touchdowns, while adding 456 yards with 12 TDs on the ground … As a sophomore, threw for 2,625 yards with 25 touchdowns and rushed for 305 yards and five scores … As a freshman, threw for 1,959 yards with 15 passing touchdowns while running for 157 yards and five TDs.
Jacob Johnson (OL | 6-4 | 312 | Fr. | HS | Spanish Fort, Ala. | Spanish Fort HS)
• 3-Star recruit (247sports.com; Scout.com) … 2015 Mississippi / Alabama All-Star Game … As a senior, helped lead Spanish Fort HS to a 15-0 record and an Alabama 7A State Championship … Led an o-line that helped the offense gain 6,825 yards of total offense on the season, including 2,869 rushing yards (191.3 yards per game) and 3,956 passing yards (263.7 yards per game) with 34 rushing touchdowns and 44 passing TDs as a senior.
Isaiah Jones (WR | 6-4 | 195 | Jr. | TR Milton, Fla. | East Mississippi CC)
• Began collegiate career at Florida State, before transferring to play wide receiver at East Mississippi CC … During 2015 season, caught 19 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore for the 8-1 MACJC North Division Champions … Enjoyed a breakout game against Itawamba CC with season highs of six catches for 128 yards, including a season-best, 55-yard touchdown reception with multiple receptions in five other games … At Florida State, sat out the majority of the 2014 season … Appeared in five games in the Seminoles’ 2013 National Championship season and tallied two receptions for 31 yards from Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, missing the second half of 2013 season with a foot injury.
Demetrius Market (DB | 5-8 | 168 | Fr. | HS | Batesville, Miss. | South Panola HS)
• Second Team All-State selection … Defensively, registered 34 total tackles with a tackle for loss, while notching 18 pass defenses, three interceptions, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble … Recorded 56 catches in final two seasons of high school, recording 1,003 receiving yards (17.9 per reception) with 13 receiving touchdowns … Racked up 2,134 all-purpose yards, while scoring 24 total TDs … As a senior, registered 20 tackles, 11 pass break-ups, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery … Notched 194 kickoff return yards on six returns with a long of 97 yards.
T.J. McGinnis (ATH | 6-2 | 200 | Fr. | HS | Sandhill, Miss. | Pisgah HS)
• 2015 Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game … As a senior, rushed for 1,834 yards and 20 touchdowns … On defense in 2015, finished with 57 tackles, including six tackles for loss … As a junior, rushed for 2,220 yards and 30 touchdowns from the running back position.
Tarvarius Moore (DB | 6-2 | 190 | Jr. | TR | Poplarville, Miss. | Pearl River CC)
• Played for Pearl River CC where he earned First Team All-MACJC Honors as a returner and as a defensive back for the 2015 season … Returned nine kickoffs for 356 yards (39.6 yards per return), including one for a 97-yard touchdown against Southwest … On defense, had 61 solo tackles and 11 assists, including one for a 3-yard loss, one interception, one quarterback hurry, two forced fumbles, and eight pass breakups.
Wyatt Richthofen (OL | 6-4 | 306 | Fr. | HS | New Iberia, La. | Catholic HS)
• Second Team 2015 All-USA Louisiana … As a junior, named First Team All-District 5-2A … Played a vital role in Catholic High School’s offensive line, which paved the way for a run-oriented offense to reach the Division III State Title game, finishing the season 12-1, including a 5-0 mark in district play.
Demarrio Smith (DL | 6-2 | 264 | Fr. | HS | Canton, Miss. | Canton Public School)
• Had 25 tackles (19 solo) in three games with 5.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, a pass defense, and an interception … Had nine pancake blocks on the offensive line as a freshman.
Shannon Smith (WR | 6-3 | 205 | Jr. | TR | Macon, Ga. | Northeastern Oklahoma A&M)
• Played at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M after starting collegiate career at Middle Tennessee … Led Northeastern Oklahoma A&M with 34 receptions for a team-high 559 yards and a team-best four touchdowns, averaging 16.4 yards per catch … With MT, redshirted as a true freshman in 2013 … Played in all 12 games during the Blue Raiders’ 2014 season, finishing with nine total receptions for 73 yards … Had 325 total snaps, including a season-high 58 at Minnesota … Rated a 3-star recruit by 247sports and a 2-star by Rivals.com after catching 43 passes for 767 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012 … Also added two kickoff return touchdowns … Earned Second Team All-State honors as a returner in 2012 while garnering All-Region and All-Middle Georgia accolades as well … Set the single-game receiving record with 10 catches for 207 yards at Westside HS … Played in the 2012 GACA North South All-Star Game … As a junior, hauled in 32 receptions for 607 yards and seven touchdowns to earn All-Bibb County Honors.
Allenzae Staggers (WR | 6-1 | 190 | Jr. | TR | Woodville, Miss. | East Mississippi CC)
• Played at East Mississippi CC … Last season, caught 37 passes for 477 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore for the 8-1 MACJC North Division Champions … Averaged 12.9 yards per reception with a 13.6 yards per catch average in conference play … Also had two TDs on special teams … As a true freshman, caught 29 passes for 398 yards (13.7 yards per reception) with six touchdowns in 12 games … In high school, recorded 127 catches for 2,231 receiving yards (17.6 yards per catch) with 19 receiving scores and 21 total TDs.
Jacques Turner (DE | 6-1 | 247 | Fr. | HS | D’Iberville, Miss. | D’Iberville Senior HS)
• Played in the Mississippi / Alabama All-Star Game … Recorded 177 total tackles (121 solo) with 24.0 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles at D’Iberville Senior HS … Had a season-best 93 tackles as a senior, while adding 84 stops as a junior … Had season-highs in tackles for loss (15.0) and sacks (7.0) as a senior.
Quez Watkins (WR | 6-1 | 173 | Fr. | HS | Athens, Ala. | Athens HS)
• Caught 44 passes for 847 yards and 12 touchdown for Athens High School as a senior season … Second Team All-State selection in Class 6A, who burst on the scene during his junior year when he returned both a punt and kickoff for touchdowns in the first two games of the 2014 season