Not many people following the Southern Conference would argue — Aaron Mellette is the best wide receiver in the league.
Against West Virginia State on Saturday, Mellette exploded for nine catches for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior eclipsed 200 receiving yards in a game twice in 2011 and earned first-team, All-America status.
"I think he is the best pass receiver in the conference," said Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Jack Curtis. "He’s a tremendous talent, he’s got some speed, he’s got range, and the quarterback gets him the ball. They’re a great combination. You don’t want to have to be in a lot of one-on-one situations with him, because they’re going to win some of those battles, and that’s what scares you."
Despite the Phoenix losing to GSU, 41-14, in 2011, Mellette caught nine passes for 109 yards and a score.
Elon (2-1) opens Southern Conference play Saturday at 6 p.m. against the No. 11 Eagles (1-1, 0-1 SoCon) at Paulson Stadium.
While the Eagles have to worry about Mellette, they can’t forget about quarterback Thomas Wilson and the other 11 Elon players who have caught at least one pass this season.
"You can sure find yourself guilty of putting too much emphasis on that kid," said GSU head coach Jeff Monken about Mellette. "If you’re going to play sound defense, you can’t. You’ve got to try to cover them all. Wilson’s good enough get the ball to the other guys."
A GSU secondary that was involved heavily against the option running game in the Sept. 8, loss to The Citadel is looking forward to playing a team that likes to throw the football. The Phoenix have a league-best seven passing touchdowns through three games.
"It’s always fun to get out there and fly around," said GSU cornerback Valdon Cooper. "It’s a change form (defending) the triple option because we get the chance to break on some balls. It’s always fun."
In the past
Georgia Southern lost its SoCon opener to The Citadel, 23-21, but was quick to move past the loss.
"Really and truly, I forgot about it," Cooper said. "We all forgot about it, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re just looking forward to playing Elon."
The Citadel, which was unranked coming into the game against the Eagles, now sits at No. 10 in the Football Championship Subdivision media poll, after Saturday’s 52-28 win over Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.
Time for a change?
After redshirt-freshman place kicker Ryan Nowicki missed a pair of field goals in GSU’s loss at The Citadel, Monken decided it may be time to change things up.
He expects true freshman Alex Hanks to take over place-kicking duties in Saturday’s game.
"I anticipate maybe Hanks will be our place kicker," Monken said. "He and Nowicki are kind of slugging it out, but right now Hanks has the edge."
Back in the mix
Middle linebacker Kyle Oehlbeck and fullback Seon Jones, who were each suspended for GSU’s first two game for a violation of team rules, will be back on the field for Saturday’s game against Elon.
Oehlbeck is expected to start at linebacker.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.