Southern Miss football coach Will Hall announced Monday the hiring additions of Cayden Cochran, Desmond Lindsey and Tad Blaylock, while Reed Stringer will remain on the Golden Eagle staff.
Cochran will coach the tight ends for the Golden Eagles, while Lindsey – who returns for his second stint at Southern Miss – will have the role of wide receivers coach/pass game coordinator. Blaylock also comes back to Hattiesburg as the Director of Football Operations. Stringer has worked at Southern Miss for the last three seasons and will now hold the role of Assistant Head Coach/General Manager.
Cochran comes to Southern Miss after recently serving three years at Emporia State, his second stint there, as the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator while coaching the wide receivers. In his first season back with the Hornets in 2018, Emporia State ranked second in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) in total offense and were third in the league in passing yardage.
In his role as offensive coordinator, the Hornets had the MIAA Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Braxton Marstall, while Tyler Harris led the league in touchdown catches. Four offensive skill players earned All-MIAA honors last year.
Prior to that stop at Emporia State, Cochran spent three seasons at NCAA Division II West Georgia. The Wolves were 28-10 during his three years in Carrollton, Ga. with two trips to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. He worked with veteran quarterback Dallas Dickey to help lead the Wolves to the NCAA Division II semifinals in 2015.
In his final season, West Georgia went 9-4, falling to eventual national runner-up West Florida 17-14 in the regional finals. Under Cochran's leadership, sophomore quarterback Willie Candler threw for a school-record 3,060 yards with 25 touchdowns. Candler also set school records in total offensive yards, total touchdowns, completion percentage and passes completed. Both Quarterbacks earned All-Gulf South honors while Dickey was the first All-American quarterback in school history.
In his first coaching stint at Emporia State in 2014 he coached the wide receivers and had a pair of All-MIAA players. Austin Willis was a walk-on that developed into an All-Region player, was signed by the Detroit Lions and made appearances in preseason games with the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders.
Cochran was the starting quarterback at Valdosta State where he led the Blazers to the NCAA Division II national title as a junior in 2012. His best work that season came during the NCAA Playoffs. He completed 80 of 118 (.676) passes for 873 yards and seven touchdowns during Valdosta State's four game run to the national championship.
Cochran played his freshman season at Coffeyville CC and spent one year at Oklahoma University before transferring to Valdosta State. He was a three-year letter winner and two year starter for the Blazers.
A native of Cashion, Okla., Cochran is a 2013 graduate of Valdosta State. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Native American Studies. Cochran’s wife, the former Samantha Posey, was a national champion softball player during her career at Valdosta State. The couple has two daughters, Posey Rhea and Brady Lyn.
Lindsey, who has 15 years of experience coaching at the collegiate level, returns to Southern Miss after spending the last two seasons at Arkansas State as running backs coach.
In 2020, he had two running backs go over 500 yards rushing, including Jamal Jones, who led the squad with 578 yards on the ground as the Red Wolves finished No. 14 nationally during the regular season in total offense at (489.7).
Lindsey’s first season at Arkansas State saw the Red Wolves complete their 2019 campaign with an 8-5 overall record with victories in four of its last five games, including a 36-24 win over FIU in the Camellia Bowl.
The Red Wolves’ running backs combined for 1,609 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, while also contributing 171
receiving yards to help the squad rank No. 26 in the nation in scoring offense (33.7 avg.) and No. 33 in both total offense (493.3 ypg) and red zone offense (.889).
A-State’s running attack was headlined by 2019 Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt Conference pick Marcel Murray, who was also a member of the Doak Walker Award Watch List. Murray completed his sophomore season with a team-best 820 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while also accounting for 125 receiving yards that were the most among the squad’s running backs.
Lindsey also tutored junior college transfer Ryan Graham to productive performances before their first season at A-State was cut short due to injury. Jamal Jones stepped in and, under the direction of Lindsey, posted the best numbers of his career with 375 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Lindsey came to Arkansas State after previously spending the 2018 season as the wide receivers coach at Memphis, which helped lead the Tigers to an eight-win campaign and an appearance in the Birmingham Bowl. Memphis ended his lone season with the program ranked fourth in the nation in total offense (523.1 ypg) and seventh in scoring offense (42.9 ppg).
Lindsey coached Second Team All-American Athletic Conference wideout Damonte Coxie, who finished the season ranked 16th in country in receiving yards (1,174). Coxie caught 72 passes on the year and posted seven receiving touchdowns.
Lindsey went to Memphis after spending the previous two seasons on the staff at Southern Miss. In 2016, Lindsey coached the tight ends and helped the Golden Eagles earn a New Orleans Bowl berth. In 2017, he moved to coaching the wide receivers, helping junior wideout Korey Robertson to a breakout year. Robertson had 76 catches for 1,106 yards, 12 touchdowns and five 100-yard receiving games. Robertson’s catch total ranks No. 2, while his touchdown grab number is tied for No. 3 on the school’s single-season charts. Robertson signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018.
Lindsey began his coaching career as the wide receivers coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. There, he helped the Bulldogs to the 2005 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) South Division championship and also coached two wide receivers to MACJC all-state honors.
He left the Bulldogs to become the wide receivers coach at the University of Arkansas-Monticello. At UAM, he helped the Tigers to their first NCAA playoffs appearance in 34 seasons and mentored three of the Gulf South Conference’s top-10 receivers in 2007.
In 2008, Lindsey joined the staff at West Alabama (UWA). He spent six seasons on the staff at UWA, including the last three as assistant head coach, before joining the staff at West Georgia (UWG) in 2014.
At UWA, Lindsey led the recruiting efforts for a team that led the Gulf South Conference in scoring offense (49.5), total offense (539.1), total defense (338.5), rushing offense (305.1), rushing defense (127.1) and pass efficiency (182.9). He mentored seven all-conference receivers, including Gerald Worsham, who became UWA’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.
Lindsey also mentored Seth Roberts, who is currently playing for the Green Bay Packers, for two seasons at UWA. In his last three seasons at UWA, the program posted a record of 25-11 with two conference titles.
Lindsey went to UWG as the assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2014. That fall, the Wolves made their deepest playoff run in the program’s NCAA Division II history, advancing all the way to the semifinals before falling to eventual champs CSU-Pueblo.
In 2015, the Wolves posted a 12-2 record and shared the Gulf South title with North Alabama. The Wolves again made the semifinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs (falling to eventual champs Northwest Missouri State).
Lindsey has twice been selected to participate in the Bill Walsh NFL Coaches Fellowship Program, working with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009 and with the Tennessee Titans in 2013.
In 2012, he was one of 30 coaches from an NCAA school selected to participate in the NFL/NCAA Football Academy in Dallas. That academy provides 30 college coaches and coaches from 30 NFL teams with development and networking opportunities to enhance their chances at success in the football coaching industry. Lindsey published Defeating Press Coverage for Your Wide Receivers by Gridiron Strategies in 2011.
Lindsey received his both his bachelor’s (2004) and master’s (2009) degrees from West Alabama. Lindsey and his wife, Sherita, have two children – Deja Moffett and Khloe Lindsey.
As for Blaylock, he returns to Southern Miss after spending time in operations at Incarnate Word since 2018, with his last role as assistant athletics director of football operations.
Blaylock’s duties included everything from the day-to-day operations to responsibilities including budget control, team travel, office organization and facility management. He also serves as the football program’s liaison to university departments and all other units within the athletic department. His role will be similar here at Southern Miss.
Blaylock planned and executed an FCS Playoff trip for 140-plus football student-athletes, staff, trainers, and other travel party members over Thanksgiving in 2018. The trip included a Thanksgiving meal, study time, and team bonding experiences.
Prior to joining UIW, Blaylock spent four seasons as the director of football operations with the University of West Georgia. There, Blaylock oversaw every aspect of the football operations program, including equipment and video departments.
Blaylock joined West Georgia from Southern Miss, where he was an operations assistant for the football program.
Blaylock is a native of Amory, Miss., and a graduate of Amory High School. He is a 2012 graduate of Mississippi State University, where he earned his bachelor's in business. He also earned a master’s degree in sport management in 2014 while at Southern Miss.
Blaylock is married to the former Victoria Mayhall of Jackson, Tennessee, and they have a daughter named Amelia.
Stringer returns for his fourth season with the Golden Eagles. After starting his Southern Miss career as an offensive quality coach in 2018, Stringer moved to tight ends last season. The past spring, he was transferred to nickels and added the responsibilities as special teams coordinator. With the coaching transition during the 2020 season, Stringer moved back from nickels to tight ends during the season.
Overseeing the special teams, the Golden Eagles returned one kickoff for a touchdown, did not allow a blocked punt or a special teams score and limited opponents to 4.0 yards per return on punts. The tight ends also combined for 20 of the 171 catches during the year for 272 yards and a touchdown.
Before coming to USM, Stringer spent the previous seven seasons as assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at Louisiana-Lafayette where he assisted head coach Mark Hudspeth with the daily operations of the football program.
Stringer helped the Ragin’ Cajun offense set multiple school records during his seven years at Louisiana. The Cajuns set school records for total offense (5,914 yards) and points (461) in 2012 as well as set program records for total first downs (283) and total plays from scrimmage (883) in 2013. In 2014, the Tight End group was instrumental in helping the offense finish 22nd in the nation in rushing averaging 225.9 yards per game and finishing 10th in the nation in red zone scoring offense, converting at a 91.2 percent success rate.
Stringer has also developed and mentored one of the most consistent and high achieving units on the Ragin Cajun squad with five different tight ends earning all-conference honors in seven years. Beginning in 2011, Stringer assisted Ladarius Green in finishing off his career as a three-time All-Sun Belt Conference performer and working his way into a fourth-round draft pick for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. In 2013, senior Jacob Maxwell earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors and along with Ian Thompson, the duo both received opportunities to play in the National Football League. Followed in 2014, Larry Pettis’ career came to an end on a high note as he also garnered all-conference recognition as well. In 2017, Stringer helped develop converted offensive lineman Raynard Ford into an all-conference player, joining true freshman Chase Rogers on the prestigious unit.
Known for being a great evaluator and a relentless recruiter, Stringer’s recruiting efforts have led the way in Louisiana posting four consecutive nine-win seasons for the first time in school history. The Ragin’ Cajun recruiting classes consistently finished at the top of the Sun Belt conference and among the group of 5 institutions.
Stringer, the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Recruiter of the Year by Scout.com, was also recognized in 2009 as one of the SEC’s “Top 10 Recruiters” by Rivals.com for his contributions to Mississippi State’s nationally-ranked class which produced 12 players who signed NFL contracts and included Cincinnati Red’s centerfielder Billy Hamilton, Thorpe Award winner Jonathan Banks, and the Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who just last summer became the highest paid non QB in NFL history. Before spending the 2010 season on Dabo Swinney’s staff at Clemson, Stringer spent seven seasons at Mississippi State in a variety of roles. At 25, he became the youngest full-time coach in the SEC when he was promoted to tight ends coach on Sylvester Croom’s staff in 2005 and added special teams duties to his resume in 2007. He was also the Director of Recruiting for Dan Mullen’s 2009 staff.
A four-year letterman on the Statesmen’s offensive line, he helped DSU claim the 2000 NCAA Division II national championship. Stringer concluded his career with a string of 35 consecutive starting assignments at offensive left tackle. In addition to the 2000 national title, he was also instrumental in helping Delta State win the 1998 and 2000 Gulf South Conference championships.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Delta State in 2001 and completed a master’s in business administration from DSU in 2003.
Stringer is married to the former Emily Howell and they have three sons, Smith, Banks, and John Reed.