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GSU B-backs have a lot to learn

GSU B-backs have a lot to learn

GSU B-backs have a lot to learn

Georgia Southern fullback Aaron Fishe...

            Zeke Rozier and Tobi Akinniranye bring the most running back experience to the fullback position at Georgia Southern.

            Rozier, a junior, carried the ball 15 times for 34 yards in 2009 after fighting with injuries in 2007 and 2008, and Akinnirayne was a contributor on special teams in 2009 after walking on the team a year before.

            Brandon Nolley was deemed academically ineligible for the 2010 season, and the only other player at the position from last season’s team is Lee Banks, a senior who moved to fullback after playing on the defensive side of the ball in 2009.

            That leaves two newcomers -- true freshmen Robert Brown and Aaron Fisher -- rounding out the depth at the position.

            Though Rozier entered fall as the favorite to start in the B-back roll, to him, it’s all up in the air.

            “Fisher and Brown, they’re both good and they both have a chance to play right now. You never know,” Rozier said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re all on the same field trying to learn a new offense.”

            Rozier, Akinnirayne and Banks got reps in the triple-option offense throughout the spring, but Brown, who played halfback in the I-formation last year at Westside, Macon and Fisher, whose Tulsa, Okla. high school ran the option out of the shotgun, have a long way to go as they try to learn first-year GSU coach Jeff Monken’s offense.

            “They’re not used to having three meetings a day on football,” said fullbacks coach Brett Gilliland about the two freshmen. “They’re used to being told the direction to run and then getting the ball. It’s a lot on them, and they’re doing great. They study on their own and come back asking questions. You can’t ask any more than that.”

            Brown has every intention of helping the Eagles win during his first season.

            “I’m expecting to be out on the field, but I don’t expect to just be put there without working for it,” said Brown. “I’m looking for competition within the team. Maybe I can get my other teammates better, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to play.”

            Fisher, who measures in at just 5-foot-6, 182-pounds, started hearing from GSU in the fall of 2009 and signed in the spring after he had the chance to visit.

            “They started recruiting me in the fall, and when I came on my visit, everybody seemed like a family,” he said.

            So far, joining the team has been seamless for the new fullbacks.

            “You can’t argue with either one of those guys,” Gilliland said. “They’re all smiles, they’re, ‘Yes sir, no sir,’ they’re taking everything in. It’s a process. They’ve got a lot to learn, and their heads are going to spin a little bit, but as far as their ability and their potential, we’re excited.”

            Redshirting is a possibility for the incoming freshmen, but those the coaching staff feels can contribute now will get every chance, and no decisions in that area have been made on either side of the ball.

            “We’re going to play the guys that can help us win,” said Gilliland. “If that’s a true freshman, great. If it’s not and they can grow a year and sit for a year, that’s great too. But we’re going to try to win every game this year, and we’re going to play the guy that gives us the best chance.”

            As the staff determines who will be at the top of the two-deep, they’ll mold the play calling to the abilities of the guys on the field. The personnel will determine the frequency in which the fullback runs north and south or around the perimeter.

            “As we start to figure out who the fullback is going to be, we’ll make that determination. Some guys on the team will probably be better at that stuff on the perimeter than others,” Monken said. “You’re going to play to your strengths.”

NOTES: Defensive end Dion DuBose, who missed Monday’s practice due to illness, returned to action Tuesday. … Slotback Nico Hickey was sidelined Tuesday due to a pulled muscle during Monday’s practice session. … A.J. McCray, who practiced with the quarterbacks in the spring, moved to the defensive secondary at Tuesday’s practice.


            Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.


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