USM ready for hot battle at quarterback
Feb. 10, 2002
Sorting through Sunday's sports news while wondering if former Southern Mississippi quarterback Jeff Kelly will ever get the respect he deserves …
I met Chad O'Shea for the first time on Thursday and liked what I saw.
The University of Southern Mississippi recruiting coordinator stopped by Northwood Country Club in Meridian to give a rundown to local Eagle Club members on how the football program's signing day had gone.
He could have said a lot of things.
He could have said that the list of 29 signees was loaded with can't miss blue-chippers. He could have said that all of the guys who put their names on the dotted line on Wednesday would actually be strolling USM's Hattiesburg campus in the fall. He could have said that six freshmen will start next year.
But he didn't. He just simply told it like it is.
He pointed out that as always USM tried to do a better job of evaluating talent than anybody else, in hopes of coming away with more sleepers like Brett Favre, Reggie Collier and Sammy Winder. He bluntly stated that several of the guys who signed won't make their grades and will likely be playing junior college football somewhere next year. He said very few of the just-signed freshmen will see extensive playing time in 2002.
I've only been around him for a little more than hour, but O'Shea seems to be a cut-to-the-chase, tell-it-like-it is, no-nonsense guy.
He did run down the list of recruits and pointed out several things that pleased him, including the addition of size in the receiving corps. He also said that junior college defensive end Seante Williams of Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College was the real deal and could play for any program anywhere.
But perhaps the most interesting topic that O'Shea spent a little time on was that of the quarterback situation.
No newly signed freshmen will be playing here. There are no junior college signees at quarterback.
The three Mickey D'Angelo, Zach White and Dustin Almond all have different talents to offer to the position, but O'Shea said any of the three has the talent to lead the team.
Many thought D'Angelo, who was the No. 2 guy behind Jeff Kelly last year, would be the odds on favorite to get the starting nod when the season opens at home against Jackson State next season. But, that is a long way from a sure thing.
A very long way. D'Angelo is 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, while White is 6-=foot-5 and 230 pounds. But O'Shea said the man to watch just may be Almond.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Almond is a redshirt freshman from Orange Park, Fla. In fact, O'Shea is so confident that the USM quarterback situation is stocked and in good shape that he said no new talent is needed there.
When jokingly asked if Florida quarterback Brock Berlin, who backs up Heisman Trophy candidate Rex Grossman at Florida, had called, he said even if he did, he wasn't sure the Golden Eagles could use him.
But while O'Shea says the competition is good, he points out that the battle needs to be waged in the spring, not in the fall after the season has begun. "I think it is important that we come out of spring and have a quarterback, I really do," O'Shea said.
This could be one of the most important spring football practices in recent memory for USM. And it certainly will be one of the most exciting.