Georgia State football team looking to build a successful season

Georgia State has high expectations for spring training, which begins Tuesday and concludes with the spring game on April 1 at Center Parc Stadium. The Panthers are returning most of their high-impact players – including nine super seniors – from last year’s squad that finished second in the East Division and won the Camellia Bowl.

“It’s always a good time because you’re starting to build your team for next year,” Elliott said. “We lifted weights and did our conditioning, and that’s one way to build your team. Now new positions, new faces, new captains, new leaders, all of these things are starting to appear and come to the fore here in the next 15 days.

To exploreRecord cap highlights Georgia State’s signing class

Much of the spring will be spent finding depth, moving players around to find their best position, and giving those who have worked hard a chance.

“We’re going to try and push our young guys to the forefront and create opportunities for guys to step up and push guys who are leading the charge,” Elliott said.

One of the priorities will be replacing five-time All-Sun Belt left guard Shamarious Gilmore. The main candidates are comebacks Avery Reece and Jonathan Brown, freshmen Marquez Bargman and Montavious Cunningham, and Eastern Illinois transfer Bryson Broadway.

“I think the only people who are going to hold us back is us. It’s something coach (Shawn) Elliott has been preaching since he got here, and I think it’s something we can do.”

– Georgia State tight end Aubry Payne

“This left guard post is the flagship product,” Elliott said. “It’s like everyone is like, ‘Hey, coach, I want to play left guard… put me on left guard… sign me up to play left guard.’ It doesn’t matter what position they’re playing or if they’re falling back somewhere else, they’re all pushing.

While the backfield is solidified with returns — quarterback Darren Grainger and running backs Tucker Gregg and Jamyest Williams — the Panthers will settle the backup situation. Mikele Colasurdo and Keilon Brown, a transfer from Memphis, will face off at quarterback. Marcus Carroll should get plenty of reps at running back.

“Probably one of the most exciting players I’ve seen is Marcus Carroll,” Elliott said. “Strength, speed – he’s a man on a mission. It’s going to get a lot of looks this spring. It’s time to see what some of these young guys can do.

The offense will operate behind new offensive coordinator Josh Stepp, who was promoted after Brad Glenn left to coach quarterbacks at Virginia Tech. There won’t be a change in philosophy, although Elliott said they will look for ways to kick the ball more efficiently.

“We’re going to do what we do best,” Elliott said. “I feel like we have dynamic running backs and strength on the offensive line, so we’re going to take advantage of that. Our philosophy, for the most part, unless someone knocks me over my head, will remain very, very consistent with what we’ve been doing since I’ve been here.

On defense, Elliott wants to develop inside linebacker depth behind stalwarts Blake Carroll and Jordan Veneziale and sees defensive end Jeffery Clark on the brink of a breakthrough season.

Now entering its sixth season, Elliott wants to encourage the continued development of player-led culture.

“Once you make something your own, it’s hard,” Elliott said. “Just like when you buy that first car, you want that car to be clean. You take the floor mats off, you do all of this because you own them. It’s yours. And I think everyone in this football team knows this program is theirs.

About Betty J. Snyder

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