Coach Ellis Johnson hired one new staff member and retained another to complete his coaching team.
Grady Brown returns for a third season to mentor the Golden Eagles corners after two successful seasons on the job.
During the 2011 campaign, Southern Miss was No. 7 nationally in pass efficiency defense (108.47 rating) and set a new NCAA record for interceptions returned for touchdowns with eight. As a unit, the Golden Eagle defense finished the season as a Top-30 defense.
Cornerbacks Deron Wilson and Marquese Wheaton also garnered multiple postseason awards for their play with Wheaton earning a fourth-team All-American nod from Phil Steele. The duo also earned All-Conference honors from the publication with second and first team honors, respectively. Wheaton and Wilson also combined for seven interceptions and 23 pass breakups to go along with three touchdown returns.
In his first year Brown, who was hired just before the beginning of fall camp, quickly instilled a toughness and physicality into his corners that amounted to a pair of freshman being selected to the All Freshman squad in Alexander Walters and Deron Wilson.
Wilson led the Golden Eagles with 12 pass breakups and picked off three passes while returning one for a touchdown. He also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. Walters had one fumble recovery for a touchdown in a memorable play at Tulane during which he stripped the ball out of the receiver's hands at the sideline and ran back 41 yards for the score. Departed senior Justin Wilson also had four interceptions as the Golden Eagles finished as the No. 4 defense in C-USA, their highest final ranking since Fedora's hire.
Brown came to Southern Miss after spending the previous year and a half working in the strength and conditioning area at LSU, where he helped tutor NFL third-round pick Chad Jones and free agent signees Danny McCray and Chris Hawkins.
Brown went to LSU after working a season at Texas Southern where he was the safeties coach and also the community outreach liaison. His arrival to TSU came after a six-year stint at Alabama State, where he was the defensive secondary coach.
During his time there, the Hornets defense finished ranked in the Top 10 nationally in six team categories and once for an individual.
In his debut season at ASU, Brown mentored Antoine Hill who finished third in the country in interceptions with 10, while the squad also ranked seventh in both turnovers gained and interceptions.
The team won the Southwestern Athletic Conference crown in 2003 and then the league's overall title in 2004, in which his defensive squad ranked No. 7 in turnovers gained and No. 9 in rushing defense.
In 2006 for the Hornets, Brown coached Michael Coe, who was taken in the fifth-round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
Also during Brown's time at ASU, he served two NFL Minority Coaching Internships, coming with both the Seattle Seahawks in 2004 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007. He also served as the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach for the Magnolia All-Star Football Classic in 2005.
Prior to his stint at Alabama State, Brown began his career in 2000 at his alma mater, Alabama A&M, before being promoted to the rank of a full-time assistant coach for the 2001 campaign.
After completing his high school career at Wenonah High School in Birmingham, Ala., Brown played defensive back for Alabama A&M from 1995 through 1998. After his senior season, he played one season with the Tennessee Valley Vipers in the Arena Football League.
Brown graduated from Alabama A&M with a degree in mathematics education in 2000.
He is married to Rashidah Brown.
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