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GS football back in action
QB competition opens spring practice
Eagles head coach Clay Helton gives a pep talk as Georgia Southern kicks off the spring football season with a practice at Paulson Stadium on Saturday, March 25.
Eagles head coach Clay Helton gives a pep talk as Georgia Southern kicks off the spring football season with a practice at Paulson Stadium on Saturday, March 25. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

The Georgia Southern Eagles hit the field at Paulson Stadium on Saturday morning for the first day of spring football practice. 

The Eagles are coming off a 6-7 record and their first bowl appearance since 2020. Head coach Clay Helton is excited about his second year at Georgia Southern and believes that, despite quite a few new faces, things went smoothly for a first day. 

"It's always exciting to start a new year, and our new season starts today," Helton said. "You get 40 opportunities with 15 practices in the spring and 25 in the preseason. We had 17 newcomers and so much energy out there today. It's almost like starting fresh, and starting new. They have put in the work with our strength and conditioning coach Robert Stiner, and now they get to go out and start improving on the field."

The Eagles lose some key players off last year's squad, but have a number of talented players vying for playing time in 2023. Georgia Southern welcomed in their largest group to come via the transfer portal with 17 players. 

One of the keys to success for the Eagles will be at the quarterback position, where Kyle Vantrease leaves after setting nearly every single-season passing related school record. Vantrease ranked second in the nation in completions per game and third in passing yards per contest. Three of the players battling for the starting spot come to Georgia Southern through the transfer portal. 

Davis Brin is a graduate transfer after starting at Tulsa last year. J.C. French was at Memphis last year, and Beau Allen played a year at Tarleton State in Texas. Prior to that, Allen played in three games for the University of Kentucky. 

"From a decision-making standpoint I really liked what I saw from Davis and J.C. today, " Helton said. "I liked what I saw as far as timing and accuracy. You can see there is already some chemistry being made between the quarterbacks and receivers who have already been working some together. We won't set a two-deep until the Friday before the Spring game, but obviously you'll be able to tell before then who is producing, and when you produce you get more reps." 

Brin is the most seasoned of the three transfer quarterbacks. He played in and started nine games at Tulsa last year, completing 148 of 250 passes for 2,138 yards and 17 touchdowns. Before suffering an injury in the fourth game of the season Brin led the nation in passing yards (1,206), passing yards per game (402.0), passing touchdowns (11) and total offense (397.0) 

"The offense they were running made it very intriguing to come here," Brin said. "I felt I could really thrive in this offense. I am so thankful to coach Helton and (offensive coordinator Bryan) Ellis for the opportunity to sit down and learn what this offense is all about. It's been really fun to get things going and I look forward to the competition in a very competitive quarterback room." 

French spent last season at Memphis where he was redshirted. He was rated the No. 21 quarterback in the country as a senior at Blessed Trinity Catholic in Roswell and said he was actually recruited by Helton last year, but ultimately decided on Memphis. 

"Coach Ellis actually contacted me, but I had already committed to Memphis," French said. "When I decided to get into the portal, I had been watching how their season played out and how successful their offense was and it was really intriguing. I am happy to be here. Being at one of the top offenses in the country, I am not sure what else you could want." 

Allen actually played a few games at the University of Kentucky his freshman year before eventually deciding to transfer to Tarleton State last season where he threw for 2,357 yards and 22 touchdowns. 

"The offense here speaks for itself and I really love the culture since I have been here," Allen said. "It is different learning a new playbook but coach Ellis has helped give us great details and information to go out on the field with. We have a lot of great guys in the quarterback room and I think we will all get better with the competition." 

The Eagles will conclude spring drills with their spring game April 22 at noon. 

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