By Chris Brennaman

assistant sports editor

HATTIESBURG — Meridian High School was well represented here Saturday afternoon as Southern Miss took on conference foe Marshall.

Three former Wildcats hit the field in the loss for the 34-27 Golden Eagles.

Brian Leggett, the Thundering Herd center, made his last collegiate trip to Mississippi, while Roshaad Byrd and Brandon Davis have many more games to be played at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

Byrd, who is a starter at defensive end for USM, was hoping to have a chance to go head-to-head with his former teammate, but Leggett was moved from guard to center this season.

"I tried talking to him some during the game," Byrd said, laughing. "I don't know if he heard me or not, but he ignored me. We bumped into each other a couple of times, but that's about it."

In his third year at Southern Miss, Byrd — a redshirt sophomore — has solidified his role as a one of the defensive ends at a school with a defense-rich history.

"It's been a good experience so far," Byrd said. "With (first-year head coach Larry) Fedora coming in, I was shaky at first not knowing what was going to happen. But he's a guy that takes care of the players. I get more comfortable every day."

Something that Byrd says helped him get more comfortable during his freshman year was having a teammate that he played high school football with. Brandon Davis, who is now a junior linebacker, joined the Golden Eagles' squad the same year as Byrd.

"It's comforting at first," Byrd said of Davis and Philadelphia's Anthony Gray on same defense. "When you go somewhere and you're by yourself you tense up a lot. But when you have guys with you from your same team — or your same area — you can hang with those guys and talk about old things and compete for new things.

"Me and Brandon Davis, we compete with each other to see what we are going to do at certain times."

Byrd had one tackle against Marshall, bringing his season total to seven. He also has one pass break up in 2008. Davis has only one tackle in three games this year. He has 15 in his career.

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