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Jaybo Shaw gets his offense situated during fall camp last August. This season, Shaw and the Eagles enter the season as favorites in the Southern Conference and look to improve on last year's semifinal appearance. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

 

From the outside looking in, the beginning of fall camp for Georgia Southern on Thursday is going to be nearly the opposite of what it was in 2010.

Back then, the Eagles were dealing with a new coaching staff, a new quarterback, a bunch of new freshmen and a completely new system. The Southern Conference media and coaches had selected GSU to finish seventh in the league.

All of a sudden, the coaching staff is nearly identical, the Eagles are stacked with returning starters on both sides of the ball and, if the 2010 run to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals proved anything, they’re comfortable running an option offense and a 4-3 defense.

Oh, and they’re the media’s preseason favorites to win the SoCon.

As different as it all seems from the outside, if you’re a Georgia Southern Eagle, you expected the exact same thing last year as you do now — a championship.

"That’s what we expect out of our football team," said second-year coach Jeff Monken. "That’s why we work so hard. Anything short of that is going to be a disappointment for us. If other people talk about it, that’s great. They may not have expected it last year. Now they expect it this year. That doesn’t change our mindset. Our mindset was the same last year as it is now."

Also, at this time last season, the Eagles had two preseason All-Southern Conference selections, defensive tackle Brent Russell and cornerback Laron Scott.

This time around, Russell and Scott are All-Americans, along with offensive lineman Brett Moore, and those three are joined by 10 other teammates on the preseason All-SoCon team.

To Monken, that doesn’t make a difference, either.

"That doesn’t mean anything at this point," he said. "It’s nice to get recognized at this point, it’s nice for those guys as individuals, it’s flattering for them and it should be. They’re recognized for the job they did last year, but they’ve still got to perform. A better indication is if there are 13 all-conference guys at the end of the year. If they’re successful at the end of the year, it will be because our team has done well."

Fall camp begins at Beautiful Eagle Creek Thursday at 2:45 p.m. The Eagles reported for camp on Tuesday.

 

Youyoute leaves team

Freshman quarterback Ezayi Youyoute has chosen to leave the team for undisclosed personal reasons.

Youyoute was redshirted during 2010 and slated to back up senior Jaybo Shaw and sophomore Jerick McKinnon in 2011.

Russell DeMasi, who was injured during spring camp, was the third-string quarterback in 2010.

Only one new quarterback, Prince McJunkins, was signed in the 2011 class. A determination has not been made on whether or not McJunkins will redshirt during his first season at GSU to add depth behind Shaw and McKinnon.

"We’ll find out," said Monken. "We’ve got two very capable quarterbacks, Jaybo and Jerick. We’ll train Prince, try to get him ready to go and see how he does. You never know how a freshman is going to do with the mental part of it as well as the physical part. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks how much he’s able to absorb. We’ll know just how much he can contribute as a player, and he may have to."

 

Injury update

According to a GSU press release, senior offensive lineman Chris Gray, junior wide receiver Mitchell Williford and freshman defensive lineman Johnathan Battle are all on the injured list and will not participate in preseason practices.

 

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