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GSU Notebook: Eagles honor Erk
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    The father of Eagle football got plenty of love at Georgia Southern’s season opener as a bronze bust cast of him and letters reading “Coach Erk Russell” along the Paulson Stadium’s façade were unveiled Saturday at GSU’s season opener.
    Russell, who built the program from the ground up in the early 1980s and led it to its first three national titles, died last September.
    Georgia Southern players hope to start a new tradition of rubbing or head butting the statue prior to taking the field on game days. The cast, which was funded by Park Avenue Bank, sits in Paulson’s west end zone and was uncovered prior to the game.
    “I like the new tradition, and hopefully we’ll build off it,” senior quarterback Jayson Foster said.
    At halftime, the school revealed new white letters reading “Coach Erk Russell” and three footballs detailed with the years of his three championship seasons. The nameplate is centered underneath the press box between the retired jerseys of Tracy Ham and Adrian Peterson.
    “Coach Russell and his Eagle teams made us proud to be associated with Georgia Southern and made our football program the most respected in the nation,” GSU president Bruce Grube said.
No names on jerseys
    Going back to another tradition started by Russell, the Eagles donned jerseys without names on the back. Hatcher said it was something he wanted to do and was encouraged by former players to return to the look.

Hartley debuts at placekicker
    Junior Jesse Hartley was solid in his debut at Georgia Southern’s place kicker Saturday, nailing 6 of 6 point-after attempts and a 21-yard field goal in the first quarter.
    Hartley transferred to GSU last season but sat out to meet academic requirements.

Three QBs
    Three quarterbacks saw playing time for the Eagles Saturday led by Foster, who shined in his return to the helm. The senior rushed for a career-high 232 yards and three scores and threw for 124 yards and another TD.
    Last year’s starter, junior Travis Clark, also saw time under center, going 0-for-4 on pass attempts and rushing twice for a total of three yards. Redshirt freshman Billy Lowe played in the game’s final minutes. He ran twice for 13 yards and didn’t attempt a throw.

This and that
    Foster recorded his 14th career multi-touchdown game and his 12th career 100-yard rushing game. He now has over 2,0000 career rushing yards…Tim Camp’s blocked punt in the first quarter was the third of his career….McIntosh’s 81-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter was third-longest in school history. The crowd of 21,489 was the largest at Paulson since the Appalachian State game in 2004.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.