The Georgia Southern football locker rooms were in pretty rough shape.
For the first time since the program was reinstated in 1981, the facility, located in GSU's Hanner Fieldhouse, got a huge, much-needed face lift. Georgia Southern President Brooks Keel, head football coach Jeff Monken and members of the Eagle Football Alumni Association cut the ribbon on the new facility Wednesday afternoon.
Director of Athletics Sam Baker, who will relinquish his duties as soon as a successor is named, was also in attendance.
"As we were putting it together, I think it was Sam who said, 'We're putting some lipstick on a pig,'" Monken joked to a crowd of about 50 onlookers. "It turned out to be more than that. It's more than we could have imagined.
"It was out of date, it smelled as bad as any locker room you've ever been in, and with the help of Sam, Dr. (Ronald) Core (vice president for business and finance), and especially Dr. Keel, we've seen this project come to fruition."
Keel mentioned the importance of recruiting in collegiate athletics, and looks forward to the ability to show off the new locker room to recruits.
"They're going to be here for four years," said Keel. "(Georgia Southern) is their home, so we want to make sure they've got the best facilities so they can be successful."
A face lift to locker room is the first of many enhancements GSU officials hope to see get started in the near future. The university is in the fund-raising phase of a $10 million Football Operations Center at Paulson Stadium, which will contain a new locker room among other additions including a weight room and offices.
"Until that happens, until that time when we move in, we felt our players deserved a first-class locker room," Monken said.
Monken said Keel mentioned on numerous occasions the need to upgrade the locker room.
"I trust Dr. Keel," said Monken. "When he says something, he's going to do it and you can take it to the bank."
Former Georgia Southern football player Tim Durden, of the Eagle Football Alumni Association, presented a check to Keel for $5,000 to contribute to the locker room project. He presented the check on behalf of EFAA President Darryl Hopkins, who was also in attendance, and the rest of the EFAA.
Back to the basics
Fall camp kicks off today for Georgia Southern. The Eagles will begin practice at 2:45 p.m. at Beautiful Eagle Creek.
Monken is excited about the experience returning to the field — specifically the defensive front seven and all of the skill positions on offense which, with the exception of quarterback Jaybo Shaw, return every starter.
"We've got a good-strong group of running backs," Monken said. "Those guys have carried the ball and proven they're capable of gaining yards for us. We're a lot less experienced on the offensive line than we've been, ... and in the (defensive) secondary, there are some guys we need to replace."
Cornerback Laron Scott graduated as the team's top defensive back, and Georgia Southern's all-time leader in kickoff return yards.
Off the field
Rising junior running back Robert Brown is recovering from offseason back surgery, Monken said, but will be in full dress and day to day starting today at camp.
Linebacker Carlos Cave sat out spring camp due to knee surgery but is ready to go for fall camp.
There were no other injuries to report.
Rising senior linebacker Josh Rowe will not participate in fall camp due to academic ineligibility. His ineligibility is under appeal and his status for the 2012 season is unknown. Rowe did not redshirt his freshman year in 2009 and still has the ability to sit out a red-shirt season.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.