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Finding a slotback
111012 GSU FOOTBALL 01
Georgia Southern slotback Johnathan Bryant, right, stiff arms Howard defender Julien David at the end of a 56-yard run in the second quarter at Paulson Stadium in this Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 file photo. Bryant returns as the Eagles' third leading rusher from a season ago. He started at slotback opposite Darreion Robinson, who graduated after 2012.

    Darreion Robinson rushed for exactly 506 yards in 2012. So did Johnathan Bryant.
    If it weren't for a broken leg suffered by Bryant in the 2010 season opener against Savannah State, the pair would have been on the field as Georgia Southern's starting slotbacks for each of the last three years.
    Now, Robinson has graduated, and the Eagles need to find another slotback to line up opposite Bryant.
    "We miss him, we miss him," Bryant said Tuesday after practice. "Definitely. But we've got to go ahead with the game plan."
    The game plan, these days, calls for a slotback to be able to line up in the shotgun and run between the tackles. That was one of Robinson's strengths at A-back. Bryant plays T-back, which requires more speed to the perimeter.
    "The stuff we were doing from the (shotgun), (Robinson) was able to handle that and run between the tackles," GSU head coach Jeff Monken said. "A guy that's having a really good spring right now is Brandon Thomas. He's a walkon kid who played on the scout team last year. He's a tough kid and he's really doing some nice things. I don't know if he's the guy yet, but we're certainly impressed with his effort."
    Devin Scott and Tray Butler took some snaps at slotback in 2012. Montay Crockett recently joined the slotbacks for fall camp.
    There are six more running backs joining the team this fall from the 2013 signing class. And other than that, just about every other running back is out with injury, including the fullbacks. It's left GSU limited in what it's been able to practice.
    The only B-back available for last Saturday's scrimmage hasn't played a live down for the Eagles.
    "We were down to one B-back, Irving Huggins, and we've got a lot of guys sitting out," Monken said. "James Dean was back out there (Tuesday), so that's encouraging. ... It's limiting what we can do under center, so we're almost forced to go out on Saturday and get in the gun most of the scrimmage."
    The Eagles will have one more practice, Thursday, before heading to Paulson Stadium Saturday at 1 p.m., for the annual Blue/White scrimmage.
    Regardless of who lines up opposite Bryant, he's sure it will work out.
     "Everybody out here runs well," he said.

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