Chris Boone is a Southern Miss guy through and through. Make no mistake about it, Boone bleeds Black and Gold, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.

“I love Southern Miss football. I love it as much as anyone walking the face of the Earth.”

So when Jay Hopson offered him a spot on his coaching staff as the team’s defensive line coach last month, well, most could probably imagine Boone’s reaction.

“I broke down and almost started crying. He [Hopson] asked me if I was alright, and I said, ‘It only took me 22 years to get back here, Jay’. I’m blessed to be back.”

“It’s great having Chris back here,” Hopson added. “We’ve got two, old Golden Eagles back in the nest. You’ve got Chris and Eddie Hicks. Those guys do a great job. They understand what it means to be a Southern Miss Golden Eagle. They understand our tradition, and it’s always good to get those guys back.”

A native of Laurel, Boone was a two-year captain at Jones County Junior College from 1991-92 before walking on at Southern Miss and playing for the Golden Eagles in 1995.

When it came to continuing his playing career following two years in Ellisville, Southern Miss wasn’t Boone’s only option. It was the clear-cut choice though.

“I grew up 25 miles down the road watching Curley Hallman and Jim Carmody,” Boone recalled. “I came to games, and I can remember watching Brett Favre running around when I was a 10th grader in high school.

“I wanted to be a part of this football tradition they got here.”

Following his playing days, Boone got his first taste of coaching at Southern Miss before graduating from the school in 1997.

Boone then went on to coach at Pearl River Community College (1997-98), Wayne County High School (1998), UAB (1999-2000), Arkansas-Monticello (2000-02), Nicholls (2002-04), East Central Community College (2004-05), Tennessee-Martin (2006-10), Jacksonville State (2011-12), Northwestern State (2013), Samford (2014) and Murray State (2015-17).

Now, Boone is coaching up Southern Miss’ defensive line, and it’s a group that’s impressed throughout five weeks of spring ball.

“We’re expecting good things from that group this year,” Boone said. “I’ll be honest with you, we’ve had about two or three guys stick out.

“[LaDarius] Harris sticks out. He’s extremely, extremely quick. He’s about 265 [pounds], but I’d like to put a little more weight on him. [Allen] Fails, he had an extremely good camp this spring. Jacques Turner. And you can’t go without mentioning probably the most improved, Demarrio Smith. He [Smith] had an unbelievable spring. Then you throw Delmond Landry in there. We’ve got a lot of talent right there.”

Southern Miss will open the 2018 season at Sept. 1 at home against Jackson State.