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My Take 4/19 - GSU spring camp wrap up: offense

Amazingly enough, despite injuries to five probable defensive starters and two offensive starters before or during spring camp, it looks like we’ll have a pretty good idea who will be out there for the Georgia Southern Eagles when the 2011 season kicks off.

So, what will the Eagles look like on offense?

Quarterback Jaybo Shaw is back for his senior year, and it still the clear-cut starter for the Eagles, but rising sophomore Jerick McKinnon showed some chops throughout spring camp — both running the ball and, in a vast improvement from 2010, throwing it, too.

There are also two X-factors. Redshirt freshman Ezayi "just call me Izzy" Youyoute has been impressive, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. And come fall camp, all eyes will be on incoming freshman Prince McJunkins. The buzz on this kid started on signing day and hasn’t stopped.

There are a metric ton of running backs on the GSU roster, but the fullback position needs some help.

Robert Brown returns for his sophomore campaign after reaching the 1,000-yard plateau as a true freshman, but his backups — Brent Thomas and walk-on Terrell Jackson — have never taken a snap in a game.

There was a boatload of buzz around the transfer of fullback Martez Eastland from Ole Miss, but he is currently serving an indefinite suspension and his status is unknown.

Head coach Jeff Monken signed three more B-backs in the 2011 class, and much like last season, at least one of them can expect to get some PT. The good news is there’s a lot of hype around all three. The bad news is, they’ll be true freshman.

At slotback, there’s depth for days.

J.J. Wilcox is expected to return from injury and be a force on the ground and through the air once again. Darreion Robinson was impressive last season, but the way he jetted around the corners and powered between the tackles in the spring game, has clearly been busy in the offseason. JB Bryant, who was a starter heading into the 2010 season but was injured in the opener, returned in spring camp with a vengeance, and let’s not forget about Nico Hickey and Brian Wilcher, both big-time contributors a year ago.

There’s a stable of wide receivers, too. It looks like strength and conditioning coach Tom Melton has been busy with Patrick Barker, Mitch Williford, Tyler Sumner and Tray Butler, and redshirt freshman Kentrellis Showers rose to the top of the pack throughout camp.

Leading the offensive line is Brett Moore, who attained near-legendary status after going from backup long snapper in 2009 to All American lineman in 2010. The addition of some shotgun stuff is nothing new for the o-line, and a full year in the system just means a shorter learning curve for any new wrinkles.

There will also be a tight end stuck on the end of the line at times next season. Sumner is listed at the position, and Willie Burden moved over there from the o-line.

Monken also signed another one in the 2011 recruiting class.

Finally, it would be a crime not to mention the special-teams trio of Charlie Edwards, Carter Jones and Adrian Mora.

Edwards doesn’t get mentioned enough, but in my book, he’s one of the top 10 punters in the country. Period. It’s uncanny how consistently he pinned it deep when he had the opportunity. In fact, if the Eagles weren’t so effective in moving the football last year, Edwards would have had more opportunities to just boot the tar out of it, and that 39.2 net average would have been a lot higher.

All Mora did last season was make all 46 extra points and drill 19 of 21 field goals.

And Jones is the snapper that sets it all up.

So there you go. Barring any super-freshman, those are the names you can expect to hear scoring the points next season.

Next week, we’ll take a look at what really helped carry the Eagles to the semifinals — the defense.


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