It’s hard to believe, but Thursday at Beautiful Eagle Creek, the 2011 football season officially begins for the Georgia Southern Eagles as they start fall camp.
I suppose offseasons tend to go by a little bit quicker after all those extra football games GSU all of a sudden had to play.
But, there’s a problem. Usually around this time of year, we have to take a look at all of the positions that need filling, all of the missing players and all the freshmen who are going to have to step in and play right away.
Well, for the first time in recent memory, that’s not really necessary.
Basically, the entire starting lineup is coming back. The Eagles can put an entire offense, defense and kicking unit on the field from a list of guys who played last year. What a novel concept.
So what the heck are we supposed to talk about?
No doubt about it, there’s some talent in the 2011 freshman class, and odds are at least some of them will find their way on the field this season. But nobody has seen what they can do or how their game translates to the next level.
So who will the starters be when GSU suits up mid-week?
Last season, there was really no centerpiece on offense. The biggest keys to moving the football were the steadiness of quarterback Jaybo Shaw and the offensive line, but there was enough talent in the skill positions to keep defenses guessing.
Robert Brown, J.J. Wilcox and Darreion Robinson lead the backfield and Mitch Williford, Patrick Barker, Tyler Sumner and Tray Butler form a steady group of wide receivers. Kentrellis Showers also emerged as a potential home run threat during the spring.
Defensively, each tier has its own leadership.
Brent Russell and Roderick Tinsley are as formidable a duo as any pair on any defensive line in the country.
Josh Rowe has the speed and nose for the football to anchor a suddenly veteran group of linebackers, and the secondary is led by familiar faces in Laron Scott and Derek Heyden.
The trio of place kicker Adrian Mora, punter Charlie Edwards and long snapper Carter Jones are all seniors, and over the last three seasons, have formed what has become the best special-teams unit in the Southern Conference.
Just like every year, it is all but inevitable that some unknown names will turn into pleasant surprises and find a way to contribute on the field, but for the first time in years, it looks like they won’t have to.
Even though fall camp hasn’t started quite yet, there’s already a pretty clear picture of who will be starting when the season kicks off in September.
Which means that this may be one of those rare occasions where no “new” news is actually good news.
Let’s just hope that any surprises during fall practice are good ones.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.