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Piecing things together
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Georgia Southern center Blake DeBartola, center, tries to escape the grasp of defensive lineman Brent Russell, right, during practice Monday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

There's a long way to go between now and the spring game on April 17, but that doesn't mean some guys haven't caught the coaches' attention.
Monday after practice, Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken offered a tentative two-deep on offense based on what he has seen after the first five practices.
Not surprisingly, the strongest runner and the strongest passer - Jawaun Luckey and Brent Osborn - have moved into the top two slots at the quarterback position.
"I think there's a role for Osborn," said Monken. "He throws the ball nice. I think there's a place we can use him at times. We thought Luckey did some good things. When he turns up the field and runs, he looks like a Georgia Southern quarterback."
Still in the mix are Russell DeMasi and A.J. McCray, whose experience running the option in high school has earned them a spot in the rotation.
At fullback, Zeke Rozier looks to be the early favorite.
"I think Zeke probably looks like a fullback for us right now. I've been impressed with his effort," said Monken. "He hits the ground, he gets up and tries to run. All of them struggle with the exchange at the line of scrimmage. Because they haven't run this offense, they want to stand and look the ball in and take the handoff rather than doing it full speed."
Monken mentioned Lee Banks as the current No. 2 and most fundamentally sound fullback in the new offense. Brandon Nolley hasn't gotten as many looks after missing practices during week one due to illness, and Monken also mentioned the efforts of Tobi Akinnirayne and Brent Thomas.
The slotback position finds itself in quite a logjam, but of the eight players listed at the position, Monken mentioned Nico Hickey and J.J. Wilcox as the top two.
He also mentioned Darreion Robinson and Johnathan Bryant as two who have the skill sets but need some work.
"He's blessed with speed, he's just got to learn how to use that speed when he plays," said Monken about Robinson. "There's a place for J.B. He's just not as physical. You could say he's more of a slight-built athlete which probably keeps him from doing some of the things we want him to do."
Wide receiver is another position with a lot of bodies, and of the group, Mitch Williford and Patrick Barker - both true freshmen in 2009 - were the first mentioned by Monken, who was also pleased with the efforts of Tyler Sumner.
"I think Barker and Williford have probably set themselves apart from the rest of the group," said Monken. "Sumner did some nice things on Saturday and he has through practice. We've got to find some guys that'll block out there and make some plays when the ball's in the air, because obviously we'll have to throw it some. Those two guys and Sumner, they've been impressive."
It all starts with the trenches, and the offensive lineman who has everybody talking is Brandavious Mann. Unfortunately, after an injury in Saturday's 11-on-11 drills, he is currently sidelined with a cast on his foot. No determination has been made as to when he will return to the practice field.
The five at the top of the depth chart as it stands are Brett Moore (left tackle), Jared Flowers (left guard), Blake DeBartola (center), William Maxwell (right guard) and Bryant Meeks (right tackle).
Moore was a long snapper in 2009 and made the switch at the beginning of spring practice.
"He asked to play on the offensive line rather than have a limited roll," Monken said. "He was a backup snapper last year. We've been impressed with him and the things he's done. He's athletic, but he's got a ways to go."
He's not the only one.
In fact, former players including Chaz Williams, Zzream Walden, Greg Hill and recent graduate Harland Bower were on hand to see just how far they have to go.
"I asked them today because there were some old players that were back watching practice," said offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Brent Davis, "I said, ‘You know why those guys come back to watch practice? Because it means something to them.' I said, ‘You guys haven't been here when Georgia Southern was Georgia Southern yet. It's the greatest place in the world.' Right now we're trying to develop a mentality as an offensive line more than anything. Once we get that mentality that we need, we can start working on the finer points."

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