As the Georgia Southern Eagles continue spring practice one area head coach Chad Lunsford doesn’t have to worry about is running back. The Eagles not only return J.D. King (625 yards, five TD’s) for his sixth season, but they also return senior Logan Wright (602 yards, four TD’s) as well as a couple talented underclassmen in sophomore Gerald Green (444 yards, two TD’s) and sophomore Jalen White (86 yards rushing) as well as Tulane transfer Amare Jones.
“That is our strongest position on offense for sure,” said Lunsford. “We are going to have a hard job getting the ball to all those guys. J.D. King and Logan Wright are both proven guys, and then you got the young guys who showed us some talent in Jalen White and Gerald Green as well as Amare Jones who brings a whole other element of versatility to the position.”
While there are some familiar names in the backfield the Eagles will be without running backs coach Chris Foster who departed Georgia Southern for East Carolina recently. Taking his place is a familiar name as former Eagle quarterback Favian Upshaw is the new running backs coach.
“Favian Upshaw is a great young coach and one day I may be asking him for a job,” said Lunsford. “Like he was as a player he is calm, cool and collected as a coach. I thought it was a good idea to bring a young coach into a very mature room. Coach Foster was a great coach here and I was worried about that dynamic when he left, but thankfully we brought in a sharp young coach who understands Georgia Southern football and understands what coach Ruse wants to do on offense.”
Upshaw has had stops at Tulane, Savannah State and Benedict College, but is glad to be where he calls home.
“This is a job I have wanted ever since I left here and decided I wanted to be a coach,” said Upshaw. “It is amazing to be back. The support has been great, and I am so happy to be back. As far as the talent I inherited quite a talented group. Each player has their own kind of style and skill set.”
“I know the word blue collar gets thrown around a lot but that is what describes these guys,” said Upshaw. “J.D. King is a great leader and a power guy. Logan Wright has a great mix of power and speed as a big back who can run. Gerald Green is lightning in a bottle, and Jalen White is just a horse I don’t know how else to describe him. You bring Amare Jones into the mix and he’s really a mix of all five of those guys. He’s got some size, but he also has that side-to-side style you like as well.”
For many teams this king of depth of talent could have players concerned about getting their reps, but the Eagle players feel the talent just brings out the best in everyone.
“When I went down with my knee injury last year, I was worried my career was over,” said King. “When I found out I could come back there was no decision to make. We have a lot of talent out there, but I think all that will do is bring out the best in everyone as we all get along so well.”
“We return so many guys from last year and we have Coach Ruse in the booth which is very exciting,” says Wright. “Having Coach Upshaw come back has been great. It was only a coue years when he was out here competing, and he has fit in really well. I feel like I bring power and speed to the position and I am ready to get my senior season underway.”
“Each one if us brings a little something different to the table and I think that will make it hard for opposing defenses,” said Green. “I believe my strengths are my speed and my elusiveness and getting playing time last year really helped me.”
“I didn't get a lot of snaps last year, but it was good to get in a few games after J.D. went down. “Said White. “I feel like I have power and speed, and with all the guys we have we will really wear down defenses this year.”
“I knew Coach Ruse and Coach Upshaw at Tulane,” said Jones. “It feels great to be part of the culture here at Georgia Southern. I feel I can do a lot of different things and I am open to do anything the coaching staff asks of me. If it’s return punts and kicks or running the ball or lining up at slot and catching a pass, I am just excited to get on the field.”
The Eagles will hold a scrimmage Saturday morning at Paulson Stadium and will wrap up spring drills April 24 with the annual Blue/White game.