Eight former Eagles inducted to Hall of Fame

Mike Craft, Football 1968-1970, receives his plaque of recognition as he is inducted into the Southern Miss Hall of Fame Friday.  Susan Broadbridge/Printz
Mike Craft, Football 1968-1970, receives his plaque of recognition as he is inducted into the Southern Miss Hall of Fame Friday.
Susan Broadbridge/Printz

Eight former Southern Miss coaches and players were inducted in the university’s M-Club Hall of Fame. The 2013 class consisted of one coach and seven players, including the first soccer player in the school’s Hall of Fame history.

Coach James Berry began his career in 1964 with the split duties of coaching the backfield and scouting. Berry would become the defensive backs coach and guided the ’65, ’67 and ’71 teams to intercept 20 or more passes as a team each year. The ’71 team’s 21 interceptions tied an all-time record.

Stacey Hall became the first Southern Miss soccer inductee. As a member of the school’s first soccer team, Hall was a starter from 1997-2000 and owns every offensive statistical record to date. She is an all-time leader in goals scored with 50, assists with 20, points with 120 and shots on goal with 177. Hall earned All-Conference USA honors during her senior year.

As an outfielder for the 2000-2003 Golden Eagles, Jeff Cook posted a .336 batting average in 225 career games. His 292 hits, 200 runs scored and 201 RBIs all rank fourth all-time in the school’s history in each category. Cook’s 50 career home runs ranks second.

After leading the team to three straight NCAA Regionals and 2003 C-USA regular season and conference tournament victories, Cook was drafted in the fifth round of the MLB Draft later in the year by the Arizona Diamondbacks and played three seasons in the minor leagues.

Derrick “The Baby Bull” Nix became a feared running back in 1998-2002 after finishing his career with 3,584 yards and 30 touchdowns. Following three dominant years of more than 1,000 yards rushing, Nix was named to the C-USA Team of the Decade in 2006. Under the Jeff Bower-led Eagles, Nix was the 1998 C-USA Freshman of the Year and named to the all-freshman team. He finished his career with 14 games of 100 yards rushing.

As a dominant linebacker in the “Nasty Bunch” defense of 1995-1999, T.J. Slaughter accumulated 425 tackles. As a first-team C-USA linebacker in back-to-back seasons, Slaughter helped lead the Eagles to a victory in the 1997 Liberty Bowl and 1999 C-USA Championship game. He was also part of the 1996 C-USA Championship-winning team.

Despite a career of injuries, Mike Craft left an impact for the 1968-1970 Eagles teams. Craft played on the offensive line and as a defensive tackle. Craft was a member of the team that upset the No. 4 ranked Ole Miss team in 1970.

Bernard Haslett was remembered as a clutch shooter and played for the 1990-1994 men’s basketball teams. Haslett ranks ninth all-time in school history for points with 1,596. He currently holds the most three-pointers in a single game with 10.

Wenston Riley ran track and field in 1999-2000 and was known for being one of the best hurdlers in Southern Miss history. As a two-time NCAA All-American, he owns the school record with a time of 13.67 in the 100-meter hurldes. He competed in back-to-back NCAA National Championships, advancing to the semifinals in 2000 and finishing fifth in 2001.

Each inductee will be remembered for his or her contributions to Southern Miss athletics. With changes to the school’s president and athletic director this year along with improvements to athletics facilities, the opportunity for current coaches and players to punch their tickets into the Hall of Fame is within their grasp.