Wildcat trio earn honorary scholarships

Wildcat trio earn honorary scholarships

DJ GillinsDavid SalserJosh NeumannThree football players for Pearl River Community College have been awarded scholarships honoring three former Wildcat coaches.

Freshman Josh Neumann was selected for the Dobie Holden Memorial Scholarship, freshman David Salser was named recipient of the Keith Daniels Memorial Scholarship and sophomore D.J. Gillins earned the inaugural John Russell Memorial Scholarship.

Neumann, 18, is a defensive lineman from Carriere who played for Pearl River Central High School. As a senior last season, he totaled 54 tackles.

This season, playing as a nose guard, he has 14 tackles, including seven solos and 3½ tackles for losses of 9 yards, and he has one sack. He is majoring in special education and coaching.

The Holden scholarship honors the man considered to be the Godfather of Wildcat Football. Holden, who died in 1986, coached PRCC from 1948 through 1966, posting a record of 140-43-7, winning seven state titles and claiming a national championship in 1961 with a 10-0 team.  

Holden led the Wildcats to five bowl games during his tenure, winning four. He also coached at Picayune High, where his teams were 72-19-7 in 10 seasons, and also coached at Pascagoula High.

The football stadium at PRCC is named in his honor and a statue of Holden stands just inside the entrance to the stadium. He was one of the first to be inducted into the PRCC Sports Hall of Fame and is also in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Salser, 18, is also from Carriere and also played for Pearl River Central, recording 181 tackles, including 11 for loss, as a senior.

Playing as a weakside linebacker, Salser has recorded 10 tackles, including eight solos, and has a fumble recovery for the Wildcats. He is majoring in sports medicine.

The Daniels scholarship honors the late Keith Daniels, who died suddenly in mid-season in 2000 during his sixth season as coach of the Wildcats.

Daniels spent a long, successful career as an assistant coach at the collegiate level, including a stint at the University of Southern Mississippi. His overall record as coach at PRCC was 21-34.

Gillins, 21, is a graduate of Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Fla., where he accounted for more than 7,200 yards in four seasons as a dual-threat quarterback.

He originally signed with the University of Wisconsin, and after a redshirt season in 2014, he played for the Badgers in 2015 as a wide receiver and special teams player, before transferring to PRCC.

He was slated to be the Wildcats’ starting quarterback this season, and turned in a solid performance in Pearl River’s opening game of the season, a 17-14 loss at Northeast, completing 18 of 29 passes for 165 yards.

However, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in that game and had surgery earlier this month. He has committed to continue his career at Southern Methodist University. He is majoring in sociology.

The Russell scholarship was established this year to honor the longtime PRCC assistant coach who succeeded Holden as head coach of the Wildcats.

Russell, who died in 2013, coached PRCC from 1967 through 1973. His teams won two state championships and won at least nine games in five of his seven seasons at the helm. Overall, he was 55-15-1 as head coach.

He arrived in Poplarville in 1960 after a one-year stint at Crystal Springs following his graduation from Mississippi Southern College, where he played on Pie Vann’s 1958 Small College national championship team..  

He left coaching after the 1973 season to enter private business in Texas, but later returned to Mississippi as an assistant coach at Copiah-Lincoln, East Central and East Mississippi community colleges before returning to Texas for good in 1992.

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