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Wide receivers: Youth joins experience

Wide receivers: Youth joins experience

Wide receivers: Youth joins experience

Georgia Southern wide receiver Kentre...


    If you say the word “wideouts” around Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken, you may just get corrected.
    “Wide blockers,” he said with a smile when asked about the progression of the GSU receivers after Thursday’s practice.
    If there’s a position on the Eagles’ offense with any familiarity to the 2009 squad, it’s at that position. Sophomores Tyler Sumner, Mitch Williford and Patrick Barker are still at the top of the depth chart, and a pair of freshmen — Tray Butler and walkon Kentrellis Showers —round out the top five wide receivers.
    Showers chose GSU over several other options.
    “He really wanted to come here, and we just didn’t have a scholarship available for him,” said Monken. “He had other scholarship offers that he turned down to walk on here, which says a lot for how bad that kid wants to be here. He’s a scholarship-caliber player for a lot of people at this level, which makes him a very good walkon for us.”
    Showers is another on a long list of true freshmen of all positions who will see the field this season out of necessity at Georgia Southern.
    “He’s probably a redshirt guy, but we don’t have the luxury of redshirting him. We’ve got to play him,” Monken said. “We just don’t have anybody else.” 
    He has some experience blocking for the running offense he was a part of at Peachtree Ridge, but the cut blocks used in the GSU triple option are a new concept for him.
    “We work as one, as a receiving corps, and the defensive backs work hard to make us better. It’s kind of different with the cutting,” Showers said. “We didn’t really cut (in high school), but we ran a Wing-T so I’m used to blocking.”
    Williford suffered a foot injury during summer workouts and Barker missed more than a week of fall camp with an injury of his own, so Sumner and Butler now find themselves at the top of the two-deep.
    “Tray and Sumner are at the top because they’ve been there all through camp, but where we’re at for the first game will be where we’re at for the first game,” Monken said. “(Sumner has) been the one guy who stayed healthy all through camp. It really speaks volumes for the effort he put in during the offseason getting his body prepared. We’re really counting on that kid to help us, and he’ll play a lot of different places in the formations.”
    Wide receivers coach Lamont Seward has been working with the players to line up out wide and in the tight end position which will also be utilized at times. He favors Sumner’s 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame on the line as well.
    “Everybody can line up there,” said Seward. “We teach it to everybody so they can get in there, but Tyler would be my first choice.”
    “You have to want to make contact and you have to want to block,” Sumner added. “That’s your job and you’ve got to do it to the best of your ability.”
    When the Eagles do work passing drills, the transition has gone smoothly. Despite having a lack of experience at the quarterback positions — Russell DeMasi is the only player listed at quarterback who was there in the spring — the addition of junior Georgia Tech transfer Jaybo Shaw has helped get things moving.
    “Having Jaybo makes a big difference,” Monken said. “He’s throwing the ball really well right now. I’ve obviously gotten to see him when he was a freshman and a sophomore (at Georgia Tech), and he’s throwing as good now as he ever has. And he should. He’s a little older and more mature. It just gives everybody confidence. Those guys know the ball’s going to be where it’s supposed to be and it helps everybody. He’s kind of the key right now.”

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

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