There was just something different about this year’s Georgia Southern football recruiting class.
It wasn’t so much about the players that were brought in. It was more about where they could potentially have an impact this season.
See, for the first time in a good hot minute, the Eagles could field an entire unit of starters and backups on offense, defense and special teams with the kids that were on the team last year.
With that said, that doesn’t mean some of these kids won’t see the field this season.
Let’s start with the transfers.
So far, there’s been two — Martez Eastland from Mississippi and Korentheus Bailey from Western Kentucky. They’re already enrolled and they’ll be able to participate in spring practice, so that’s a plus, and these two are huge.
Bailey is a 6-foot-2, 302-pound defensive lineman. While the Eagles had one of the best d-lines in the country last year, there wasn’t a whole lot of depth, so Bailey is one new Eagle with an excellent shot of seeing the field right away.
Eastland is another big body, and he’s a running back.
The 6-foot, 235-pound fullback joins a backfield that saw 13 different running backs carry the football in 2010, and 10 of them are coming back. Add the four freshmen from the recruiting class, and things are getting mighty crowded in the GSU backfield.
So, which of the returners gets fewer carries? Robert Brown? J.J. Wilcox? Darreion Robinson?
The only easy part of the whole thing is that it’s pretty clear a lot of redshirts will be handed out. As for figuring out who actually gets put out there on the field — well that’s a good problem to have.
The main focus of the recruiting season was on the defensive side of the ball, namely the cornerback position that returns only three scholarship players, and GSU signed five defensive backs. Three are at least six feet tall, and that kind of size at the CB position is pretty rare at the FCS level.
Whether or not these kids are ready for Division I football is another question entirely, and it won’t be answered for, at the very least, another nine months or so.
One position that will receive very little debate is the quarterback position, where Jaybo Shaw returns for his senior season as the clear-cut starter.
Jerick McKinnon showed a great deal of progress as Shaw’s backup in 2010, and Ezayi Youyoute redshirted after a case of turf toe in fall camp kept him off the field.
Prince McJunkins comes to GSU from Wagoner, Okla. and was the lone quarterback signed in 2011. Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said the staff went after almost a dozen QBs, most of whom signed with FBS schools as “athletes,” and McJunkins was the one they got.
Monken also said they’d like to sign one QB per year so there would always be four or five in the program and, well, the math checks out.
Georgia Southern’s offensive line was one of the biggest surprises in 2010, because none of them had any experience with the triple-option offense. Brett Moore was named an AP All-American after playing backup long snapper in 2009 and things ended up working out pretty well for the Eagles in the trenches.
None of the seven offensive linemen signed in the 2011 class have any experience with the option, either, so I suppose that went according to plan, too.
Only four wide receivers saw significant playing time in 2010, and two of them fought through injuries, so a little bit of depth there certainly won’t hurt.
Kentrellis Showers and Lester Green redshirted last season, and they are joined by B.J. Johnson, Zach Walker and tight end Wilson Hudgins.
Three freshmen linebackers and one defensive tackle join an experienced front seven on defense.
The only question mark on that side of the ball is who GSU will name as defensive coordinator.
We just went through a laundry list of guys, and, for the first time in a while, it may be a year or two before we hear most of those names again.
And that’s a welcome change at Beautiful Eagle Creek.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.