Clay Helton has reached another milestone as Georgia Southern head football coach. Wednesday morning the Eagles held their first scrimmage of the preseason at Paulson Stadium as they gear up for the 2022 season.
The Eagles hit the field around 10:00 and immediately went into various formations for the first few minutes of practice before breaking into position groups, and then ran some reps toward the end of practice.
Helton was upbeat during, and after practice as he is excited about getting closer and closer to the season opener.
“It was a great opening day and I’m glad we still have 24 more practices to go,” said Helton. The kids had good energy and focus and you could tell they put in a lot of work in the off season. The eight weeks of meeting and prep and strength and conditioning was evident in our first practice.”
Helton is aware that the season opener is just 30 days away and knows there is still plenty to accomplish between now and then.
“You have to take advantage of each one of these days,” said Helton. “We don’t have school going on right now so we have plenty of time with them before school starts August 11. These opening six practices are really important to have a little bit extra time for them to come in the morning and then watch what we did in the afternoon and reinstall for the next day.”
Redshirt sophomore defensive back Derrick Canteen missed most of the 2021 season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered on Sept. 11 against Florida Atlantic. Canteen says he’s feeling good and ready to pick up from his stellar freshman year.
“It’s been a long time coming but I am happy to be back,” said Canteen. “I am 100 percent healthy for the first time since going into the FAU game. It was a learning experience not being able to play last season. Younger guys had their chance and we are hopeful to take what we have learned last year and during the spring and carry it into this season.”
While Canteen still has a few years left at Georgia Southern for senior punter Anthony Beck this marks his last preseason practice and he had mixed emotions about his final first day.
“I had chills in the locker room getting ready to hit the field,” said Beck. “It was a little strange coming to Paulson for the first day of practice as I’m used to going to Eagle Creek. Even with the turf out here it didn’t feel that bad and they were a few less gnats than at Eagle Creek. We have so much depth on this team and I’m really excited about the season especially being my last year.”
Senior defensive lineman Justin Ellis is ready to get one step closer to being able to get back on the field and start the season.
“We got a lot accomplished and it was a step in the right direction towards building a team,” said Ellis. “No matter how much you think you are prepared it’s still pretty hot out here when you have your pads on and it’ll take a little bit to get acclimated mentally and physically. We only won three games last year so we are all embracing the changes the coaches have brought and we are ready to roll.”
The Eagles will continue to practice at 10:00 a.m. up until the first day of classes on August 10. Georgia Southern opens the 2022 season Sept. 3 at 6:00 against Morgan State at Paulson Stadium.