Six Southern Miss starters once were walk-ons

By The Associated Press

HATTIESBURG — At Southern Miss, they are known as the Walk-On Players Union — six players who earned starting spots, even though they weren’t initially offered scholarships.

Wide receiver Francisco Llanos, quarterback Austin Davis, kicker Danny Hrapmann, punter Peter Boehme, long-snapper Creighton Nelms along with offensive linemen Thomas Edenfield and Dyron White make up the group.

Edenfield tells The Hattiesburg American (http://bit.ly/ox4FO4) the WOPU even has T-shirts.

Each has found a way to prove himself. Llanos, for example, earned a scholarship after a 2010 season that included an 87-yard kick return for a touchdown against Tulsa. Davis came over from the Southern Miss baseball team, and three years later holds nearly every significant school passing record.

“All those guys are contributors,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “They understand it’s all about production. We don’t care if you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or whatever. For us, it’s about who makes the team better, and these guys have all shown that their team is better with them in the lineup.”

For out-of-state- players, a full semester can cost as much as $5,000 before buying books and a parking decal, not to mention a food plan or school supplies.

“My dad was one happy guy when I called him and told him,” Edenfield said. “One big thing for me was the meal plan. I’m a big guy, and I like to eat, so that saved us a ton of money just by itself.”

Boehme was awarded his scholarship just after his first full season.

Coaches had invited him to campus, but he agreed that a punter should have to earn his scholarship.

“It was kind of funny,” Boehme said. “We got the bill at the house and my dad called me and asked me what we were going to do about it. I called coach (Gary) Camp, and he told me I didn’t have to worry about it. My dad was stoked.”