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Robert Brown likely to have surgery
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Georgia Southern fullback Robert Brown breaks an attempted tackle by Chattanoga defensive back Kadeem Wise on a 48-yard run in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 28-27 win at Paulson Stadium October 8, 2011. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Robert Brown, who ran for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010 to become the first Georgia Southern true freshman to total more than 1,000 yards rushing since Joe Ross in 1987, likely will have back surgery "in the next two weeks," GSU head coach Jeff Monken said Tuesday.

Brown, a 5-foot-11, 203-pound rising junior from Macon, was sidelined during spring practice because of the injury, which has nagged him since he suffered it Sept. 18, 2010, against Coastal Carolina during his third game as an Eagle.

GSU players will report for preseason training camp July 31. They will begin practicing Aug. 2.

"The doctors are going to give him some injections to try and ease the pain, and push the swelling back a little bit," Monken said of Brown. "It’s just not reacting to the injections as well as we hoped. We’re probably going to do a surgical procedure on him, or have the doctors do a surgical procedure on him, just to get in there and get whatever it is that’s going wrong fixed so that he doesn’t continue to have these reoccurring and nagging injuries in terms of his lower back."

Monken said there is no timetable at this time for Brown’s return.

"I don’t know. We’re going to let the doctors take care of him," Monken said. "Obviously, if we can get him nursed back to health in a pretty timely fashion we want him. We want to play him. He’s a good player and a big part of our offense. And we’ll try to get him healthy and playing. But the most important thing to us is his health, his long-term health, and we won’t do anything to jeopardize that.

"It’s not like when you scope a knee or you do an ACL surgery or you’ve got a broken leg. Most of the time, the doctors can give you a pretty good idea on how long the rehab is going to take, and here’s a ballpark on how long it takes for that to heal. This is a surgery, or an injury, that you just don’t know. It could be a very short recovery and it could be one that takes some time. We’re, obviously, going to let him heal completely and make sure he’s in good health and feels well before we allow him to come back and play. I know he wants to play. That’s his goal. And certainly we’d like to see that happen."

Last season, Brown started in eight of the 13 games in which he played. He ran for 937 yards and five touchdowns.

In 2010, during his first game, Brown ran for 122 yards and a touchdown against Savannah State to become the first freshman since Adrian Peterson (1998) and the first true freshman since Ross (1987) to rush for more than 100 yards in his collegiate debut.

"He missed three games that year," Monken said. "He missed the next three games (after being injured) and then came back and finished the season, and was a 1,000-yard rusher for us."

Brown was moved from B-back to A-back late last season. At A-back, he ran for 83 yards on four carries against Old Dominion in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

"He’s got great hands," Monken said. "With the stuff we’re doing out of the gun (shotgun formation), we’d still be able to hand him the ball when he was in the gun, whether he’s an A-back or a B-back. Those two positions become identical. But there’s a little more versatility to get him on the perimeter with the ball, and I think that’s something he’s good at as well.

"B-back wasn’t going to be the position where we started him out. Although, because he’s played that position, he certainly could flip-flop and play both. At this point, we’ve got some other guys who have played, fortunately. We’d love to have Robert back. We think he can be a great, great player his last two years for us. The more he’s played, the better understanding he’s gained of the offense. I’m excited about his future.

"The other guys on the roster are capable and able and will do a great job, and when he returns we’re going to get him back in the groove, and I know he will help us."

 

Academically ineligible players

Monken, like all coaches, is hoping that none of his players will be academically ineligible for the 2012 season.

"(July) 26 is B-term final exams," Monken said. "We’ve got a couple of guys on the fence right now that need some summer credits, either GPA or hours. We’ve got our fingers crossed. We’re biting our nails a little bit on a couple of them. We’ll see. We’ve got two and a half more weeks and, hopefully, these guys will come through."

 

Russell named All-America

GSU nose tackle Brent Russell has been selected to The Sports Network’s FCS Preseason All-America first team.

Russell, a 6-foot-2, 291-pound senior from Comer, was GSU’s fourth-leading tackler with 67 tackles last season. He led the Eagles with 16.5 tackles for loss, including 6.5 sacks.

Nicknamed ManBearPig, Russell was the Southern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year last season, as well as a first team All-America selection by The Sports Network after the season.

 

Preseason training camp

Although players will report to preseason training camp July 31, they will not practice until the afternoon of Aug. 2.

"There’s just a lot of things we’ve got to do in terms of getting them settled into their housing, getting physicals, compliance meetings, getting them information just to get them prepared for camp," Monken said.

 

Large summer turnout

The majority of the team remained on campus this summer to take classes and work on conditioning.

"They’re doing a great job. They’re working hard," Monken said. "This is the third summer in a row we’ve had over 100 kids stay the whole summer and work out, which is remarkable to have a group that is so committed like that. That doesn’t happen everywhere."

 

Noell Barnidge may be reached at (912) 489-9408.