Austin Peay State University football has led the Ohio Valley Conference with 16 incoming transfers over the past three seasons. 11 of those have been from the FBS level.
Though that should not come as a surprise, since more than 25 percent of Austin Peay’s current roster came from various colleges and universities. While previous head coach Will Healy relied on the transfer portal, the now University of Charlotte coach seemingly had a bigger focus on junior college prospects than current skipper Mark Hudspeth, who has keyed in on Division I transfers.
Hudspeth’s prior coaching stops have benefitted Austin Peay, as redshirt senior Keenan Barnes joined the team last fall. Barnes previously attended Louisiana-Lafayette, where Hudspeth led the Ragin’ Cajuns from 2011-2017. The wideout provided depth for the Govs in 2019, accumulating over 200 yards and a touchdown in seven games.
Hudspeth’s previous stints at Mississippi State have also been significant for the Governors. Seven of the recent 16 transfers originate from the Magnolia State (though not all of them arrived on Hudsepth’s watch). Hudspeth was the MSU wide receivers coach in 2009 and 2019, before returning to the Bulldogs in 2018 as the tight ends coach and assistant head coach.
His connections lured transfers Cameron Miller and Blake Mitchell from the Bulldogs, the former recording 23 tackles and two sacks this season, and the latter earning an OVC-First Team selection on the offensive line.
Austin Peay announced four more transfers during the early signing period, bringing both quantity and quality to Clarksville in 2020. The signees include wide receiver Vincent Taylor, defensive back Kam White, offensive lineman Robert Holmes and safety Kobe Perry.
Taylor averaged over 23 yards per catch as a senior at Ridgeway High School in Memphis and received offers from Mississippi State and TCU. He spent the last two seasons at Mississippi State.
White, a redshirt sophomore from Ole Miss, played eight games for the Rebels and was rated a four-star recruit by ESPN.
Holmes played 24 games at UConn and was ranked a top-60 offensive guard out of Oxbridge Academy (Fla.) in 2017, according to 247 Sports.
Perry is the most recent transfer and was ranked as a three-star recruit out of high school. The senior played two seasons at Dodge City Community College (Kan.) before spending last season at Troy University.
“My decision was more about off the field than on the field,” he said. “I wanted to be around someone who could help me to be a better man.”
Perry said he developed close relationships with Hudspeth and his coaching staff, and that ultimately led him to join the Govs, who finished 11-4, won the OVC title and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals in 2019.
“Football will end for me one day, so I wanted to be around (coaches) who could make me a better father and a better person,” Perry said. “That was a key component in my decision.”
With 23 graduations ahead for Austin Peay by the end of this spring, transfers and high school recruits alike will need to play crucial roles for the Govs in 2020. Austin Peay opens its season on Sept. 5 at Cincinnati.