SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Southern Miss football players made stops in Gulfport and Pass Christian at local Boys & Girls clubs on Thursday, to greet their fan base from all over the state.
Former Harrison Central Red Rebel Rusty Clark found out he's now a celebrity - at least, one of the kids thinks so.
"That's the first time I've ever been called a celebrity. I don't see myself as a celebrity; just an average guy that God's blessed," said Clark.
After signing autographs, the team met in Long Beach for the 18th annual Gulf Coast Beach Bash. It was in unanimous favor to be indoors this year instead of being outside in the south Mississippi heat a year ago.
Following a 9 and 5 season and a trip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Southern Miss is back with a new head coach, but the same goal: win a Conference USA West Division title and go from there.
"We want to create that buzz. USM football had a a great tradition here before I was even born. Every year is a different year, but we have outstanding players and coaches who are anxious to get this season started," said Jay Hopson.
The Golden Eagles open up the 2016 season at the home of the Kentucky Wildcats Sept. 3.
"The success last year created some hype for this season, but one of the most important things is to focus on tomorrow, the next day, focus each week, because that's what it's all about," said Nick Mullens. "You can't win a championship now. You win it by working hard before that, so that's what we've been focusing on."