With about two weeks remaining before Georgia State opens its season against Samford in the Georgia Dome, first-year Panthers coach Trent Miles said he’s still looking for consistency.
“That’s what we are lacking right now,” he said.
The Panthers worked on special teams Thursday morning and were scheduled to practice again Thursday night.
Miles said he has seen progress from several players, including linebackers Jarrell Robinson and Allen McKay, guard Tim Wynn and wide receivers Kelton Hill and Albert Wilson.
“(Robinson has) had an outstanding fall camp,” Miles said. “Probably one of the most improved guys. He does a great job of running to the ball and helping guys get lined up.”
Robinson said he thinks he has performed much better in the preseason camp than he did in the spring, when the coaches began to install the new defense and new plays. He said he devoted himself to workouts and studying more film during the summer.
“It’s been a big turnaround for me,” he said. “It’s showing in the field.”
Robinson is working at middle linebacker, where Miles said he is a nice compliment to Joe Peterson. Robinson said he is growing more comfortable in defensive coordinator Jesse Minter’s system, which he said he likes because it allows him to move more quickly than he was able to in last year’s system.
Hill came to Georgia State as a quarterback, which he played as a freshman and sophomore. He started his junior season at quarterback, moved to the secondary and then moved again to wide receiver, where he caught 11 passes for 96 yards.
“Kelton has really come on,” Miles said. “He’s more comfortable catching the ball across the middle.”
Hill is playing the slot receiver, where he has to read linebackers and safeties to decide what route he will run. He said he’s glad to be at one position, though one position isn’t entirely true. Hill also returns kicks. He returned seven last season for 130 yards. He said he’s also comfortable in that role.
“I feel at home, better than last year,” he said. Hill said he probably knew 85 percent of his responsibilities. This year he said he knows 100 percent.
Defensive line depth: There are at least 10 players competing for three starting spots on the defensive line. However, assistant coach Shannon Jackson said he expects to play nine or 10 this season.
The returning players include Theo Agnew, Terrance Woodard and Joe Lockley. Marcus Stetzer, who played on the line last season, has been moved to fullback. David Huey is seeing time on the offensive line. Players with experience but who will play for the first time at Georgia State include Nermin Delic, who sat out last season after transferring from Kentucky, and George Rogers, who signed from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
The defensive line rotation includes as many as five freshmen.
“I think the group is getting better,” Jackson said. “I think we will have some pretty good depth.”
Jackson said he prefers to alternate groups into games to keep players fresh, and he likes the versatility of the linemen.
“Some guys are good third-down guys with the pass, and some guys are better against the run,” he said. “We are figuring out the different packages that we can run. The guys will get some reps.”
The rush ends, which include returnees John Kelly and Melvin King and freshman Mackendy Cheridor, are grouped with the linebackers.
Grant King update: Georgia State hopes to hear by Tuesday the result of Grant King’s appeal for reinstatement to the NCAA.
King, who has started every game at right tackle in Georgia State’s first three seasons, wasn’t allowed by Miles to participate in the team’s first practices of preseason camp because of an academic-related issue. He was then allowed to participate because Miles thought the issue was going to be resolved in King’s favor.
But the NCAA ruled against King last week, resulting in the appeal.