The Georgia Southern men’s soccer team on Monday announced the addition of eight student-athletes to their 2020 squad.
The group includes six freshmen and two transfers who will join a pair of senior transfers that signed with the Eagles back in January.
“We're pleased to finalize our incoming class," GS coach John Murphy said. "A lot of work has been put in by our staff, in particular our recruiting coordinator Joe Barber, and I'm grateful to everyone for their efforts. This group of individuals addresses a lot of needs we have, not only for this upcoming year, but going forward for the future.”
Recruiting is always a roller-coaster ride, with teams battling it out to land the top prep or transfer talent available. But 2020 has been an entirely different animal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players at all levels and from all around the world have seen most — if not all — of their seasons shut down. That has left teams to rely on older scouting reports and the ability to judge players off of tape rather than in-person evaluations at matches or in camps.
“It was different, but I think we’re alright,” Murphy said. “I think that we were out in front with recruiting, even before we ran into (team and recruiting activities shutting down.”
The team is now assembled, but there are plenty of hurdles still on the horizon.
Most notable is that full training sessions are still prohibited. Murphy is hopeful that restrictions will continue to loosen in the coming weeks, but — as has been seen throughout the sports world — everything is subject to change at a moment’s notice.
Limits on team training and gatherings will also put a strain on how quickly the team can welcome in and adapt to its new additions. While much of the focus around the college sports world has been on the return of football, soccer teams traditionally kick off their schedules before football, leaving even less room for error in building up game plans and preparing to hit the ground running.
“This is where our depth is going to come into play,” Murphy said. “Not only do we like the guys we’re bringing in, but I feel like we have a really good group of guys returning. The first month of games is always about trying to find yourself as a team, even in the best of times. That might go a little longer this year, but we’re looking forward to a great season.”
Georgia Southern is more fortunate than some in that its season is still on pace to happen. Multiple schools have begun to eliminate their soccer teams in coronavirus-related cost saving measures. The Eagles and the Sun Belt Conference will feel effects of that as Appalachian State was forced to cut its men’s team last month.
“That was very hard to take,” Murphy said. “I know we’re rivals, but no one is happy to see that. App State was a powerhouse back in the 70s and 80s. There are a lot of teams in that area due to how popular App was and how they grew the sport.
“At the same time, it makes me appreciate what we have here in Statesboro. We have great leadership and I feel like we have an efficient and professional setup that is reinforcing all of the good things about our program in challenging times.”