Eagles, real and representative, went back to work on Monday on the banks of Beautiful Eagle Creek. Yes, even Freedom was there to check out the action.
With some chilly air and a blinding sun, there wasn't a sense of a new beginning this spring, but rather the sense of a new mission.
Players ran to the right places (most of the time), coaches kept their cool (relatively) and the Council of Elders watched shotgun formations without strained necks or curious eyes — as if this is what Georgia Southern football has been like all along.
For the first time since 2005, there's no sense of newness, no questions of the unknown, no new coaches or offensive systems — just a return to the football field — and that's a relief.
There were normal questions, like who's going to be behind center? Right now, number 12 and number 13.
Kyle Collins (13) worked out with the one's for the majority of Monday's practice, backed up by the Billy Lowe Show (12). At this point you'd have to believe they're 1-A and 1-B.
Both were put to work throwing deep crossing routes and long post patterns, differing from the slants and screens from a year ago. Both looked pretty sharp, but I'm sure it'll be another 172 days before we learn who the actual starter will be.
Elsewhere, the rumors were indeed true. Coach Ashley Anders is morphing his defense into a 3-3-5 look — that's three linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs.
It's just another sign of the ever-changing face of football. I'm no fan of anything less than four up front, but with everybody and their brothers throwing the ball like they'll get slapped if they run it, I can't say I blame the GSU staff for basing out of a new scheme.
The new look should play to the Eagles' advantage. The defensive backfield, anchored by Chris Covington and Chris Rogers, should be able to make plays all day long in this system. Hopefully they will.
Finally, there were special teams, and the first reminder that the one and only Jayson Foster was nowhere to be found.
"Punt team!" one of the coaches yelled, followed by a mad scramble by everyone to get to their positions. As one blue jersey ran by, he said, "Where's Jayson Foster?" His teammate smiled.
The biggest change for the Eagles this spring is that there was no change. After 23 years of regularity, GSU has somewhat survived the last two years of wild transformation and came back to work knowing what to expect and how to expect it.
A new era of Georgia Southern football began last spring, but a new mentality has begun during this one.
All seems to be coming full circle in Eagle Nation.