Southern Miss Addresses Shootings, Future of Team
Defensive lineman Deddrick Jones and linebackers Martez Smith and Tim Green suffered gunshot wounds after a fight at a Hattiesburg, Miss., nightclub spilled out into the parking lot. All three players remain at a local hospital and are in fair condition. However, Fedora said Green cannot speak and there are reports that Smith is paralyzed from the waist down.
Fedora, who was speaking to the media for the first time since the incident but was limited because of the ongoing investigation, said he found out about the shooting around 2 a.m. after receiving a phone call from one of his assistants. Eight to 10 players were at the Remington's Hunt Club, but Fedora had not yet ascertained who or what instigated the argument and how his three players were involved.
"We constantly talk about making good decisions with our football team," Fedora said. "These are 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids. Unless you are that age, you probably do not think the same way they do. I know I don't. Making decisions is part of the growing process and coming from a young man to a full-grown man. You have to make decisions on your own and understand that there are consequences to every decision you make. We talk about that all the time. Kids are going to make mistakes and they are going to pay the consequences for those mistakes and they move on and learn from them and grow. That is how they become a full-grown man."
None of the players at the club will face any punishment for being out Saturday night since the Remington's Hunt Club was not a place from which the players were restricted and there's no curfew after Saturday games. However, Fedora said his team is currently on lockdown until the situation is sorted out with the proper authorities.
The shooting came just hours after the Eagles upset Central Florida to put themselves back in the C-USA title race. Southern Miss would have to win out and get some other help to play for the conference title. After the weekend's events, Fedora is focused on getting his team's heads back into football.
"You have to be sensitive to what is going on, obviously, but we have a job to do," Fedora said. "Our football team has a game this week. That is not going to change. Our team has to be prepared and our coaches have to prepare them, not only physically, but mentally. We have to try to put this behind us as quickly as possible but at the same time keeping those guys in our thoughts and prayers. We are going to treat it as a normal week, but we have grief counselors around and we also have a team chaplain who is very close to all of our guys.
"We talked about as a coaching staff in our meetings what to be aware of and what to look for in these guys. We have assigned buddies to each player so they can watch each other. There may be a few things different, but the best thing will be to get back into our routine. The guys are off today as normal. They will come back tomorrow for meetings and we will practice. We plan on getting after it just like we do every Tuesday."
Fedora has spent the better part of the past 48 hours in the hospital and players will go in shifts to visit their teammates Monday. Otherwise, Fedora said, he's trying to keep things as controlled as possible and keep his team as focused as possible.
"Basically everyone in the country is going to be watching how we react as a football team and not just Saturday night when we play the University of Houston but throughout the week; how we handle this situation," Fedora said. "It is something that as a football team you are probably as prepared as you can be. You have to handle adversity each and every day when you are on the football field. It is going to happen. It happened last Saturday at UCF when we fell behind 14 points on the road at a ranked opponent and they just fought back. They are going to fight back right now and they are going to prepare themselves and get ready to play on Saturday night. I am confident that these guys have a lot inside of them."