HATTIESBURG, Miss. - After helping Southern Miss put together a Top 20 defense a year ago, Golden Eagle senior defensive back Cornell Armstrong returns for his senior campaign to help make that unit even stronger.
Last year’s Golden Eagle squad ranked No. 15 nationally in total defense, allowing just 324.8 yards per contest. Under defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro, Southern Miss kept opponents to under 300 yards of total offense five times during last season, including only 282 to Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
Armstrong expects this year’s defense to improve on last year’s finish, as the squad’s speed has gotten even better over a year ago.
“I would say the defense is quicker and faster (than a year ago),” said Armstrong. “All eleven of use can run. All of our reserves can run as well and we can be just as quick as anyone else lined up against us.”
As the Bassfield, Mississippi, native enters his final season, he continues to try to better himself each day in practice and do all the little things it will help the Golden Eagles do to challenge for a C-USA championship this season.
“Just running to the ball and having a burst,” said Armstrong, on the things he is working on in fall camp to better prepare himself for the season. “I am making sure I’m getting there (to the spot) and keeping my teammates up. Even though times do get hard out there, when it gets hot, we try to keep each other up.”
His attitude toward his teammates is not unusual here at Southern Miss as the players try to assist each other on and off the field, while older players – like Armstrong – look to fulfill leadership roles in the program.
“My goal is to just go out there and do my job and not try to do too much,” said Armstrong. “Just try to do everything I can to keep the team up and be more of a leader.”
Over his first three seasons, Armstrong has put together a solid career that has included 124 career tackles over 37 games and also includes 22 pass breakups and three interceptions.
As he heads into his final season, Armstrong wants to improve on those numbers and, when his career is finished here, be remembered as one of the finest Golden Eagle cornerbacks in school history.
“Just a lock-down corner who doesn’t care about the opponent and is confident,” said Armstrong on how he wants to be remembered with his time with the Golden Eagles. “(And also) Know that I give it all I had every time I put the Black and Gold on, because they believed in me when everyone else didn’t.”
Season tickets, flex plans, and group tickets for the 2017 Golden Eagle home season are still available and can be purchased by going online at SouthernMissTickets.com, by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or by visiting the Pat Ferlise Ticket Office, weekdays, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Discounts are available for Southern Miss faculty and staff, senior citizens, military personnel, and recent Southern Miss graduates. The Golden Eagles open the 2017 season at home on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 3 p.m. against SEC opponent Kentucky.