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Not your dad's GSU receivers
Eagles end fall camp
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Georgia Southern wide receiver Raja Andrews makes a touchdown catch during fall practice. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

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An interview with coach Dugans.

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An interview with wide receiver Raja Andrews

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A look at Georgia Southern's wide receivers.

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    When Swainsboro’s Raja Andrews signed with the Eagles in February 2004, Georgia Southern wasn’t exactly an exciting destination for wide receivers. In GSU’s famed triple option offense, few balls went deep and run blocking was always the first priority for Eagle wide outs.
    My how things have changed.
    The triple-o is now a distant memory at Beautiful Eagle Creek where Georgia Southern’s receivers are gearing up for a crucial role in the team’s new offense, a wide-open, pass-oriented style installed by first-year coach Chris Hatcher.
    “Just to know that we’re throwing the ball now, it’s really a whole different mindset, a whole different game,” said Andrews, who converted from slot back to receiver last season. “(We’ve gone) from being physical receivers to having more finesse but still being physical. It’s different, but as a receiver we love it because we want the ball. Just to come out here and know that we are going to get the ball everyday, it’s more exciting.”
    Andrews and Michael McIntosh, both juniors, and senior Irving Campbell have emerged as the team’s top receivers, while senior Lynon Jefferson, junior Tim Camp, sophomore Chris Ashkouti and redshirt freshman Steve Cundari add depth to the position. Senior tight end Charlie Giacomarro provides another weapon for catching passes.
    The group is tutored by well-versed receiver Ron Dugans, who played at Florida State and in the NFL for five years. Since they were GSU’s third staff in 13 months, Dugans said the first thing the coaches had to do was earn the players’ trust and convince them they knew what they are talking about. The Eagles have bought in and are progressing well.
    “A lot of those guys have had their moments, and the thing we are trying to work on now is being more consistent, not only with making plays downfield, but with blocking out on the perimeter because it’s going to be big,” Dugans said. “I feel good about the group.”
    Dugans said his players mistakenly think he expects them to be perfect right now, but that’s not the case.
    “September the 8th against West Georgia is when I want you to be close to perfect,” he told his unit. “You are going to make mistakes. You don’t have to be perfect, but when you make a mistake, just go out there and correct it on the next play. If you drop a pass, don’t drop the next one.”
    Sure, there’s some nervousness that comes with the increased role, Andrews said, but the receivers are dedicated to their jobs.
    “We’re just ready to step up to the challenge and make plays,” he said. “Everything is going really well, and we are all excited. We get the ball a lot, so it’s a lot of responsibility on us. We are willing to accept that. We have the talent and the guys to do it.”
    Getting the timing down between the quarterbacks and the receivers is always key, but it hasn’t been a concern because of the work the Eagles put in this summer, Hamilton said.
    “It’s working out well, and the timing is good,” he said.
    Campbell’s been encouraged by what he’s seen and feels the receivers are one of the hardest working groups on the field.
    “We’re a critical part, so if we get our job done, this offense will be successful,” he said.

Eagles wrap up fall camp
    Georgia Southern concluded fall camp with a two-hour workout Saturday morning at Beautiful Eagle Creek. Overall, Hatcher was satisfied.
    “Everybody got some work, and we did some good things on both sides of the ball,” he said. “It was a good way to end our camp.”
    Hatcher said there are no new developments in the race for the starting quarterback job. Senior Jayson Foster has taken most of the snaps with the first-team offense this week, though redshirt freshman Billy Lowe has seen a few. Junior Travis Clark, last year’s starter, has been working predominately with the second team recently.
    “I’ve been real pleased with all their progress,” Hatcher said. “We’ve got to go play a game to find out if we are any good or not. We’ve still got a lot of little things we’ve got to shore up before Sept. 8.”
    Hatcher said he hasn’t decided whether or not he’ll redshirt true freshmen quarterbacks Lee Chapple and Chris Pye.
    The Eagles will begin preparations for West Georgia on Monday when they’ll designate players for the scout team. GSU hosts the Wolves for its Sept. 8 season opener.

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