The Georgia Southern football team has long prospered off of the fruits of local talent. Currently the Eagles have 11 players hailing from within about an hour's drive of Statesboro, many of whom are starters, with a few more pushing for playing time.
“You always have to do your due diligence in your surrounding area,” said Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford. “I think there is a lot of quality coaching, and a lot of quality players in this area. When we find out about people nearby we can get there in a hurry. We are going to always do our homework close to home, and if they can play Division-1 football we are going to try and get them here.”
One of the biggest names from our area to make an impact is defensive tackle C.J. Wright. At Scrven County Wright made quite a name for himself, not only for what he did on defense, but also as a fullback where he rushed for over 1,000 yards during his junior year. Wright was rated as high as the No. 25 player in the state of Georgia by Southern Pigskins.
“He has it all — power, athleticism, quickness and energy,” said defensive line coach Victor Cabral. “He has a real strong knowledge of the game, and he can really play any position up front. He is fun to be around, and fun to have on the practice field as well as game day. He has been in the rotation since his freshman year, but we are really going to be counting on him to take an even bigger role on defense this season.”
Wright was pretty highly recruited out of high school, but said a few things helped sway his decision to attend Georgia Southern including his current head coach.
“The brotherhood at Georgia Southern really brought me here, but also the recruiting coordinator who is now my head coach,“ Wright said. “I had come before to watch games, but when they brought me in for my official visit I really fell in love with the place.”
Being less than 30 minutes from home had a little to do with Wright’s decision. His family has enjoyed being able to have a short drive to watch him play, but while it’s nice to be close to home Wright tries to remain on campus more during football season.
“Being so close to home it’s easy to get home,” Wright said. “During the season I try to stay here a little more to keep my head screwed on tight. The good thing is I get to see my family a lot as they come to all the home games, and most of the road games too.”
The junior played in all 13 games his true freshman year, and nine games last season missing a couple due to injury. Wright was the only player to see action on offense, defense and special teams his freshman year and had 34 tackles including 5 for a loss last season.
“I have been able to learn a lot from the seniors the past few seasons,” Wright said. “This year it is time for me to step up and take on a leadership role, and take the younger players under my wing.”
While Wright made an instant impact as a true freshman, Claxton’s Myles Freeman came to the Eagles as a walk-on, and is coming off a redshirt freshman year. Freeman is hoping for some playing time after moving from receiver to slotback this year.
“I played running back, and on defense in high school,” Freeman said. “They started me off more at wide receiver last year, but I really like moving more to the slot. I get a chance to run the ball like I did in high school, but I also get to catch the ball as well. There’s a lot of talent around here but I am okay to keep trying and wait for my opportunity.”
Freeman was a four-sport standout at Claxton and totaled over 700 yards of total offense including six touchdowns his senior year. One of the main reasons he chose Georgia Southern was the history and the fact that it was close to home.
“It’s really nice to be close to home at times,” Freeman said. “My family can come watch me play, and since I am from Claxton I know a lot about the program and came to a lot of games growing up which makes it a cool experience to now be on the field.”
Freeman came to Georgia Southern as a walk-on, but has already caught the attention of his position coach.
“Myles has really fit in well with the group,” said receivers coach Dimitri Donald. “He brings a tremendous work ethic and really embodies what it means to be a Georgia Southern man. His role has changed a little for us, and I look forward to seeing what he’s got with a few more reps in our scrimmage on Saturday. I feel the position change will really help Myles”