When Georgia Southern cornerbacks coach Orlando Mitjans played safety for the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1978-80, he had a heck of a football coach.
In fact, his old coach came by to talk to the Eagles Thursday before practice.
“There was stuff going around the locker room,” said GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw about the talk before practice, “saying, ‘Lou Holtz is over there in our meeting room.’ Some of us believed it.”
Turns out, it was true.
Holtz, who has coached at William and Mary, N.C. State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina and is currently a sportscaster, author and public speaker, passed through Statesboro Thursday to share some words of wisdom.
The Eagles hung on every word the 74-year-old retired coach had to say.
“That was awesome,” said Shaw. “He’s a legendary coach, and he just told us about the opportunities we have in front of us. You know, not everybody gets it. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege. Just cherish that moment.”
He also drilled home another point.
“Trust,” said rising sophomore wide receiver Tray Butler. “That was the main thing. He was talking about trusting the other players, trusting the coaches and doing what you need to do not only on the field, but doing it off the field.”
He tied it all in with family pride.
“It spoke to me,” Butler said. “He asked us if everyone loved their mom. Everyone raised their hand. He said, ‘Do what you need to do. Your mom made sacrifices for you. You need to do what you need to do to make your mom proud.’ It really touched me.”
Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken said the coaches talked about just about everything with Holtz — from player discipline, to Xs and Os to building a championship program — but the best part was when he addressed the team.
“I though it would be great for our kids to just listen to him,” Monken said. “It’s not every day you get somebody like that in front of your team. He’s a great motivator and has a very endearing personality. It comes through when he talks. He talks with passion about college football, what it means to him and what it means to the people that are involved in it.”
Everyone left the meeting inspired.
“He talked to our kids about what he believes in,” said Monken.
The Eagles return to spring camp Saturday after a day off today.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.