Jay Hopson, a 24-year coaching veteran on the collegiate level and twice previously a member of the Golden Eagle coaching staff, met with media and fans Monday afternoon at his introductory news conference as the new Southern Miss football coach.
Hopson became the school's 21st head football coach as the program embarks on its 100th playing season this fall.
"Coach Hopson brings some very special qualities and key assets to our program," said Southern Miss Director of Athletics Bill McGillis. "In addition to the integrity, core values and leadership skills he will bring to Southern Miss, Coach Hopson's extraordinary experience and the success he achieved while transforming the Alcorn State football program; his deep Mississippi roots; and his pedigree, which includes having served six terrific years as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at Southern Miss, made him the right MATCH to lead our storied program. His passion for, and commitment to, the Golden Eagle program is beyond question. Jay Hopson is ALL about the Black and Gold."
A native of Vicksburg, Miss., Hopson returns to Southern Miss after a successful four-year stint as the head coach at Alcorn State. During his tenure there, Hopson led the Braves to a 32-17 record and consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference championships the last two seasons. Alcorn State also recorded at least nine victories in each of the last three seasons, including a 10-3 mark in 2014 and following this season, Hopson led the Braves to the inaugural Celebration Bowl, a postseason football bowl featuring two standout programs from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
His team also captured the SBN Black College Championship in 2014.
Prior to his arrival at Lorman, Hopson worked as linebackers coach for two seasons at Michigan (2008-09) and worked as defensive coordinator at Memphis during the 2010 and 2011 campaigns.
"It truly is a special honor and privilege to be the head coach at Southern Miss," said Hopson. "This is a dream job for me, a destination job for me. I have spent six wonderful years here and hope to spend the rest of my coaching career here at Southern Miss and I am blessed as this is a University that I love from the bottom of my heart. I'm just ready to get to work."
Hopson returns to Southern Miss after working as an assistant coach for the Golden Eagles from 2001-03 (defensive backs) and then again from 2005-07 (linebackers, defensive coordinator).
Hopson's defensive units led Conference USA in scoring defense each of his three seasons as defensive coordinator. In 2006, the Golden Eagles led C-USA in third down defense and red zone defense while his 2005 unit led the league in turnovers forced per game as well as led the nation in fumbles gained.
During his first stint with the Golden Eagles, the defensive unit led the nation in fewest passing touchdowns allowed and finished fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense in 2002. Southern Miss led C-USA and finished fifth nationally in pass defense during the 2003 season and each year during that stretch, Southern Miss ranked in the Top 15 nationally in scoring defense.
Hopson spent 2004 at his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, as defensive backs coach and was the program's recruiting coordinator. The Rebels' pass defense improved from 109th nationally in 2003 to 49th during the 2004 campaign.
Hopson's coaching experience also includes positions at Marshall (1996-2000) and Delta State (1993) as defensive backs coach. He was a member of the Herds' 1996 NCAA I-AA National Championship staff and coached the team to four straight Mid-American Conference championships. Hopson also held defensive graduate assistant positions at the Florida (1995), LSU (1994) and Tulane (1992). He helped the Gators to the Southeastern Conference championship and played for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl.
He earned four-year letters and received the 1991 John Howard Vaught Award as a player at Ole Miss. A CoSIDA Academic All-American, Hopson graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor's degree in business administration (1992) and received a master's of health in physical education and recreation from Delta State (1994).
Hopson and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters, Virginia and Hannah.