When the Georgia Southern Eagles found out they would be running an option offense, it was easy for the running backs to get pumped up about the possibilities.
“It’s something to get excited about,” said F-back-turned-B-back Zeke Rozier. “(The starting B-back) is probably guaranteed 30 carries a game.”
The wide receivers, on the other hand, found out they’d be catching a lot fewer passes and doing a lot more blocking.
First-year coach Jeff Monken doesn’t mix words about that.
“I’m not going to pamper or baby anybody. We’re Georgia Southern. This is our offense, this is our defense, this is what we do,” he said after the team’s first day in pads Thursday. “We’re going to try to win every football game. I told them from the get-go, ‘If you’re in, if you want to be with us, if you want to win a championship, then let’s go. If you don’t, I’ll help you go somewhere else to fulfill your personal goals.’ I’ve got no problem with that. The ones that are here, I assume they want to be here.”
The way Monken sees it, there’s only one reason why any recruit should want to come to GSU.
“I told every recruit we took, ‘Don’t come here because you like me. Don’t come here because you like the coaches recruiting you, or you like the offense or you like the defense,’” Monken said. “‘Come here because you want to be at Georgia Southern and you want to win championships. That’s the reason you come to school here.’ I hope they came here for that reason, and if they’re still out here, I suspect that’s why they’re here.”
That’s not to say that the wide receivers in the dual-slot, spread option attack won’t have a shot to make plays. They just need to make sure they can take care of the dirty work, too.
“Our guys seem to understand that it’s about team first, and they’re going to have the opportunity to make big plays,” said wide receivers coach Lamont Seward. “When it’s their time to make big plays they will. Other than that, if their job is called to block, they’re gonna block.”
And they know it.
“I’m not going to say, ‘Hey, balls are coming your way, and you’re gonna get this and you’re gonna get that,’” Monken said. “We’re going to do what we do. We’re going to do it as best we can, and I think our guys want to win.”
Of course, the passing game isn’t so bad, either. When things are going well for the offense, the receivers are going to find themselves in man coverage with the chance to break one open when a pass does come their way.
“Any wide receiver in the nation would agree that one-on-one coverage is the best coverage,” said sophomore wide receiver Jamere Valentine. “Being able to make plays, playing football, being around the guys – that’s what I get a kick out of.”
The blocking and hitting during Thursday’s first full-contact practice haven’t been the hard part for Valentine.
“Learning the plays, learning the plays,” he said. “It’s a pretty big playbook, so I’m just trying to get it down.”
Tyler Sumner, who caught his first-career touchdown pass as a redshirt freshman in 2009, was thrilled to be going back to an offense similar to the one he ran playing GHSA Class AA football at Savannah Christian.
“It’s definitely an exciting offense,” he said. “There’s definitely a lot of big plays all over the field, and that’s what makes football exciting – having those big, long catches, those long runs. … We were fired up. We have the opportunity to come out here and be more physical than we were in the past. We’re fired up about coming out here and busting somebody.”
The newest Eagle
Former Georgia Tech quarterback Jaybo Shaw was in attendance at Thursday’s practice, and will attend Saturday’s 9 a.m. scrimmage.
Shaw said he was in town during Tech’s spring break after visiting his brother Connor, a quarterback at South Carolina.
The backup for the Yellow Jackets the past two seasons, Shaw signed his papers and was cleared to gain acceptance to Georgia Southern after being cleared by Tech coach Paul Johnson to transfer in February. He will complete the semester at Tech before coming to join the Eagles.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.