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What can Brown do for GSU?

What can Brown do for GSU?

What can Brown do for GSU?

Georgia Southern freshman fullback Ro...

            The Georgia Southern fullbacks lost what little in-game experience they had when junior Zeke Rozier went down with an injury early in last Saturday’s scrimmage.

            The No. 1 fullback on the depth chart is now Robert Brown, a true freshman from Westside, Macon.

            “The first time I found out I was at the top of the depth chart, someone texted me and told me,” Brown said. “I didn’t really take note, I didn’t get cocky or anything, I just felt like I still had to come out to practice and work.”

            Behind him on the two-deep is Lee Banks who, despite being a senior, started his collegiate career as a track athlete at Western Carolina. He later transferred to GSU to play football, spent two weeks as a quarterback and was moved to defensive back before becoming a running back when first-year head coach Jeff Monken took over in the spring.

            Behind Banks are senior Tobi Akinnirayne, a special-teams contributor in 2009, and another true freshman, Aaron Fisher, a 5-foot-6, 182-pound back from Tulsa, Okla. who Monken hopes will have a redshirt season to develop this year.

            “We may have to use him, I don’t know,” Monken said about Fisher. “Right now I think it’s probably ideal we redshirt him.”

            Monken describes Brown as a player who looks like a veteran despite being a first-year player, and knew Brown was going to have a role on the field somewhere.

            “He’s a guy that I thought we were going to have to get the ball in his hands regardless of whether he was the starting B-back or not,” Monken said about Brown, “play him at slot or let him spell Zeke if Zeke was the starter.”

            Brown will have Rozier in mind as he takes on a bigger role in the offense.

            “We know that one of our guys is down, so we need to come out and not only represent the team, but also Zeke,” said Brown. “He was a big part of this team and a big part of the B-backs, so we need to come out here and work hard for him.”

            Rozier has been on crutches this week at practice, but continues working with the fullbacks, albeit in another role.

            “They’ll have two coaches now,” said fullbacks coach Brett Gilliland. “We hate to lose a guy like Zeke, but he’ll still be around and we’re glad to have guys behind him that can step up.”

            Monken said Rozier’s future is unclear right now. He suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, and was redshirted in 2007 after suffering the same injury in his left knee. Another redshirt may be an option.

            It is not unprecedented for a player to get six years of eligibility.

            “There was a guy at Toledo who got seven one time. I was listening to it on the radio and I was amazed,” said Monken. “There are circumstances that I think warrant the opportunity for a kid to have another redshirt year. The poor kid, if this is a serious injury and he has to have surgery, this is the second full season he’ll have to miss. I don’t think a kid should be punished for that.”

            Depending on the diagnosis, there is even a chance, though unlikely, Rozier could return to the field this season.

            “There’s been guys who have braced an ACL tear for three years and then got surgery after their career was done,” Monken said. “Who knows? We’ll see what’s wrong, we’ll see if we can fix it and get him to play, or we’ll do what we can medically to take care of the kid. Our number one concern is him and the health of his body.”

            The B-back position in the dual-slot, spread-option offense has a history of using one feature runner at the fullback position. Jonathan Dwyer was the feature back at Georgia Tech after Paul Johnson took over in 2008, and Adrian Peterson and Jermaine Austin were both four-year starters at Georgia Southern from 1998-2005. The job is Brown’s to lose, although running the position by committee is still a possibility.

            “We’d like for it to be a one-horse race, to have a starter and feel good about that guy, but we’ve got to have a great backup,” Monken said. “We’ve got to have a guy where if the first guy goes out, the second guy comes in.”

NOTES: The Eagles spent the last hour of Wednesday’s practice in Hanner Fieldhouse after lightning forced them off of the practice fields. … Safety Derek Heyden and defensive tackle Roderick Tinsley each returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out the second half of Tuesday’s practice with minor injuries.


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

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