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On the beat: Walk-ons making run for starting placekicker
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            Sophomore walk-on Sean Mayo is making a run for the starting placekicking job, a spot the Eagles desperately need stability after a shaky 2006.

            “He’s done a good job,” Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher said. “He came out on our tryout, and he’s been kicking the ball real well here lately.”

Mayo, who played for Georgia Military College last season, is vying with another walk-on, junior Jesse Hartley. Hartley had a slight edge over junior Patrick Bolen in mid-August, but Hartley and Mayo have shared the majority of reps in practice recently.

            Hartley practiced with the Eagles last season but had to sit out to meet academic requirements after transferring from Tallahassee Community College where he played baseball. He earned 25 credit hours in six months to regain his eligibility.

Missed kicks and close losses plagued the Eagles last season when Georgia Southern ranked dead last in the Southern Conference in field goals and point-after-attempts made, converting 9 of 18 field goals and 20 of 25 PATs.


QBs and redshirts

            Senior playmaker Jayson Foster has been running the first-team offense for the second straight week, while junior Travis Clark works mainly with the second team. Redshirt freshman Billy Lowe gets the third-most snaps during practice, and Kyle Collins, also a redshirt freshman, has seen very little time under center and has primarily been used to send in plays from the sideline.

            Sophomore Caleb Callahan and true freshmen Lee Chapple and Chris Pye have been working with the scout team, an indication Chapple and Pye are headed towards redshirts, although Hatcher said he hasn’t decided yet whether or not they’ll sit out this fall.


Offense in blue?

            Fans taking in practice late this week did a double take as Georgia Southern’s offensive players switched Thursday to blue practice jerseys, previously the signature color for the team’s defense. The defense is now wearing white tops during workouts.

            Because the Eagles will be wearing blue jerseys for home games, Hatcher wants his offensive players to get accustomed to seeing their teammates, particularly the receivers, in blue. The offense will switch back to white practice jerseys during workouts leading up to away games, during which the Eagles will done white shirts.

            As they have since Hatcher took over, GSU players continue to wear their practice jerseys inside out because “they’ve got to earn the right to wear blue and white,” Hatcher said.

            He said he hasn’t really thought about when the team will reverse their practice shirts or what they’ll have to do to earn the right to do so.


Preparing for the Wolves      

            Georgia Southern’s preparations for West Georgia began in earnest this week as the Eagles’ scout teams tried to emulate what the Eagles think they’ll see during their Sept. 8 season opener at Paulson Stadium.

            “(West Georgia’s) got a new defensive (and offensive) coordinator, so we’re just really kind of guessing and taking the best possible guess we can take,” Hatcher said.

            “It’s going OK. (Wednesday) was really the first day we started really working West Georgia. It’s a different tempo because you’re not going one’s on one’s, so we’ve got to get used to practicing that way a little better.”


Stokes chats with Eagles

            Former GSU All-American Fred Stokes, who helped the Eagles to their first two national titles in 1985 and ‘86, paid a visit to Beautiful Eagle Creek this week and briefly spoke to the team following Wednesday’s practice.

            “He did a good job,” Hatcher said. “It went real well.”

            What was the former NFL player’s message to the team?

            “That’s between him and the team,” Hatcher said.

            After earning first team All-America honors in 1986, Stokes enjoyed a 10-year NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins, who he won the Super Bowl title with 1991. The Vidalia native helped provide a cookout for the Eagles following practice and is launching a new food label called Fred Stokes Foods.


Alex Pellegrino