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Filling some holes
Eagles' transfers learning their roles
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Georgia Southern's Valdon Cooper, a transfer from Illinois, right, holds receiver B.J. Johnson to a short reception during seven-on-seven passing drills at practice Monday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    Georgia Southern football isn't known for taking a lot of transfers.
    Football Bowl Subdivision transfers like Lamar Lewis (Florida State, 2006), Harland Bower (Central Michigan, 2006) and Jaybo Shaw (Georgia Tech, 2010) each turned into multi-year contributors at GSU, but they don't always work out.
    That's why GSU coach Jeff Monken is careful when considering taking transfers into the program.
    "We're pretty selective," Monken said. "We get an opportunity to talk to or get releases on a lot of transfers, but we don't pursue a lot of them."
    Programs like Delaware have seen recent playoff success with transfer quarterbacks like Pat Devlin (Penn State) and Joe Flacco (Pitt), but Monken's opinion is that longevity begins with the development of high school recruits.
    "Personally, I'm not a fan of having a lot of transfers on a football team," Monken said. "I think you can build a really good team that way sometimes. I think you can get all these guys from different places, get some talented kids and have a good team. To build a good program that's going to sustain itself year-in and year-out, to me the best way to do that is to bring them in from high school and develop them so they grow in the program."
    This season, Monken has taken a few — notably Valdon Cooper (CB, Illinois), Ean Days (RB, Illinois), Tevin Thomas (LB, Copiah-Lincoln Community College) and Carlos Powell (DL, Southern Miss).
    Cooper came to GSU last spring after seeing time on special teams at Illinois,
    "I grew up knowing about Georgia Southern," said Cooper, who played his high school ball in Elberton, Ga. "It was always about tradition and brotherhood."
    Monken also brought in a high school kicker from Lassiter in Marietta, Ga. named Alex Hanks, who joins a 2010 transfer, punter Luke Cherry, and freshman kicker Cole Allison.
    "That's why we brought (Hanks) in," Monken said. "We only have a kicker and a punter in camp, and he can kind of take the load off those other two guys."

Laron makes NFL splash
    Former GSU cornerback Laron Scott made his NFL debut with the New Orleans Saints Sunday in a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, and he got noticed.
    After misjudging a punt on his first return opportunity, Scott fielded the next kickoff in the end zone and sprinted, juked and broke tackles on his way to a 67-yard return.
    The Eagles noticed, too. Cooper, a transfer from Illinois replacing Scott at corner this season, was impressed.
    "He came from Georgia Southern and that just says we're a winning program and we can get you there," Cooper said. "We produce athletes."
    Eagles cornerbacks coach Orlando Mitjans said he spoke to Scott before his NFL debut.
    "We talked a few days ago," said Mitjans, "and I just said, 'You need to catch the football. Catch the football and make the first guy miss. Field it first, then make the first person miss.' And that's what he did."

Full contact
    The Eagles spent Monday's practice in full pads for the first time during fall camp.
    Practicing in the morning to avoid the afternoon's rain, the Eagles worked full contact drills and ended with offense versus
defense.
    "There's better intensity and a faster speed just because they can turn it loose," said Monken. "When we're in shells, we tell them to stay off the ground and don't cut block, don't bring anybody to the ground, don't shove somebody in the back. Just take care of each other. When we get the full gear on, it's, 'Let's turn it loose and play as fast as we can.' And they do."   
    Practice resumes with the first two-a-day of fall camp today at 9 a.m. and 4:33 pm. at Beautiful Eagle Creek.

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