- Gabriel Burns
After a historic 2017 season, Georgia State hauled in 26 new players, with nine of them secured Wednesday.
“Overall, it’s one of the best classes I think we could’ve brought in here,” coach Shawn Elliott said. “We’ve met all our needs. … We did a really good job of getting the necessary tools in place, the character in place to build this program where we want to be.”
Skill players: Elliott said addressing skill positions was vital. The Panthers snagged a combo of seven running backs, receivers and tight ends. That includes running back Seth Paige, who rushed for 1,836 yards and 22 touchdowns with Baker High School (Florida) last season.
Running back was particularly of interest after losing senior Glenn Smith.
“We needed to bolster our skill position players,” Elliott said. “You have to go get those play-makers. There are so many times you’d like to have that offensive line open up those holes, but we need somebody who can make some guys miss and take it the distance. We went out and attacked those positions.”
It’s unclear which quarterback the skill players will be helping next season. Quarterback Conner Manning graduated. The team acquired Dan Ellington as a transfer, along with freshman Swift Lyle.
Elliott was non-committal about the position, calling it “wide open.” Whatever happens, the signal-caller will have NFL prospect Penny Hart at wide receiver. Hart’s reputation, along with those of former GSU players and current NFL contributors Robert Davis and Albert Wilson, played a role in recruiting skill players to a relatively young program.
The trenches: The Panthers landed only trench player Wednesday, offensive lineman Travis Glover of Dooly County, but they added nine overall.
Despelado Alexandre, Johnathan Bass, Akeem Smith, Brandon Joseph and Glover make up the haul along the offensive line. Tre Moore, T.J. Smith, Marlon Young come in as edge rushers. Mario Dungy is listed as a guard and end.
Elliott stressed the importance of adding to the lines, which the school mostly accomplished during the December signing period.
Rest of the defense: Replacing Chandon Sullivan, B.J. Clay and Bryan Williams in the secondary will be a challenge that the team’s success hinges on.
The Panthers landed safety Courtney Williams on Wednesday after signing cornerbacks Tyler Gore and safety Jacorey Crawford in December. While that may or may not be a light package, they also added linebackers Zachary Dixon, Jontrey Hunter, Blake Carroll and D’Angelo Knight.
GSU’s defense had moments of brilliance last season. Despite the losses of key players, it’s hoping the depth has been replenished and younger players such as Khai Anderson, Ben Hood and Jerome Smith.