Southern Miss picked up a huge in-state commitment today when Morton (MS) LB Freddie Hartz pledged to the Golden Eagles after his visit with the coaching staff on campus.
Coach Hopson got the class of 2017 started off with a bang, and the Mississippi High School connection has already started to benefit USM's program.
"I have known Jay Hopson because he's known my dad forever, and they have always had a great relationship," Coach Ty Weems told GoldenEaglePride.com.
"Jay is the type of man that means what he says. He is honest and up front with the kids and that really means a lot to them. He is trustworthy and direct, but he's also got a down to earth feel that just makes the players he meets with feel comfortable. He doesn't give off a vibe that he is bigger or better than anyone, he's just a real humble, down to earth guy that is easy to talk to.
"He was able to tell Freddie that he will be around and that Southern Miss is where he wants to be. It meant so much to Freddie to have that stability and to know that in the landscape of college football where coaches are always moving around, he'll get to work with him all four years."
Weems drove Freedie down to Hattiesburg for his visit today with Coach Hopson, and they also met with Coach Tony Pecoraro and Coach Pollard. They talked about his life, his goals, and also got down to business about his future with the Golden Eagles.
"They told him they really wanted him at Southern Miss and they loved his versatility," Weems said. "They are going to be multiple and aggressive, and the style of play they want on defense suits Freddie's game perfectly. It is just a win-win for everyone."
Hartz had offers to Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alabama among others, but was blown away by what he saw on the Southern Miss campus.
"He's visited the campus when he was a kid, about 10 years ago, and he said he was just going to go down with an open mind," Coach Weems informed us.
"Then, he was just blown away. We were talking on the way back and he said he was just surprised by what he saw and how much he loved the place. He loved the campus, the people, the coaching staff, the opportunity to play early, and the vision from the coaches. He said he fell in love with it and was just ready to commit by the time he left because he found the place he wanted to call home."
Weems also gave some good insight into what the Eagles will be gaining in Freddie Hartz.
"Before we talk about how good of a linebacker he is, we have to talk about his character off the field," he said.
"He's the heartbeat of our defense and our team. No one works harder than he does in the off-season, and he is a beast in the weight room and the way he works out challenges all our other guys. He's a great kid that everyone loves to be around, a true leader. When he gets on the field he's just so tough and so physical because of how hard he works.
"He's the type of throw back linebacker that Southern Miss has been famous for over the years, and he reminds me of some of those great ones because of his versatility. He might be a kid who plays inside LB, or he might even grow to a defensive end or hand in the dirt guy. I'm telling you, he can do it all."
In the end, it was just the perfect fit for both sides.
"I'm happy for Freddie, becuase I know he's going to get to play at a great school with coaches who know defense and will take good care of him," he said. "I'm happy for Southern Miss, because they are getting a great player and even better person. It is just the right fit all around."