Division-I rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period. In March the NCAA extended an extra year to all spring sports student athlete. In October the NCAA granted the extra year of eligibility to fall and winter sports as well, essentially giving all Division-1 athletes an extra year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision left schools to base how many sixth-year students they would bring back around scholarship budgets. Most FBS schools throughout the country settled on three or four, but Georgia Southern ended up granting nine football players an extra year of eligibility.
“I had kept athletics director Jared Benko apprised of our numbers as the season ended and we started getting an idea of who wanted to come back,” said Eagle head coach Chad Lunsford. “He had a number he was working with our budget in mind and thankfully our number fell within that.”
Players granted an extra year include safety Javon Jackson who played in six games last year and started in once. Linebacker Todd Bradley-Glenn, who played in 13 games and started in four. Cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. played in and started 12 games in 2020. Wide receiver Dexter Carter Jr. played in 11 games last season and started in two. Linebacker Randy Wade Jr. played and started in 11 games last season. Offensive lineman Aaron Dowdell played in and started 13 games in 2020. Defensive lineman Rob Bozeman has only played in one game in his Georgia Southern career with two plays against UMass. Offensive lineman Lawrence Edwards played in all 13 games and started nine of them. Running back J.D. King played in and started seven games before having his season end with a knee injury.
“All these guys bring great leadership to our team, “ said Lunsford. “Sometimes when seniors are done it is not a good idea for them to come back because they may be mentally or physically done. I don’t feel that is the case with these guys and they fit in really good with our team.”
Each of the players are currently enrolled in classes with most working on a second major. Each player also came back for different reasons.
“I feel like I really have only played three healthy years here at Georgia Southern,” said Bradley-Glenn. “I felt like I really wanted another year to finish things off the right way with the boys. The only question was my knee and it’s feeling good, so I am ready to go.”
Bradley has a degree in marketing and is currently working on a second degree in construction engineering. Defensive teammate Randy Wade Jr. has a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and is currently working on a second degree in Psychology.
“The reason I came back was for the guys here,” said Wade. “This is a family thing here at Georgia Southern and when the season was done, and I went home I missed these guys so much. When the Bowl game was over, I was pretty sure, but when i got home there was no question I was coming back.”
“Randy Wade and Todd Bradley were two guys we were really hoping would return,” said Lunsford. “Randy was one we were pretty sure was coming back and we were so happy Todd joined him as they both bring so much leadership. They can help teach these younger guys what being at Georgia Southern is all about.”
2020 was cornerback Darrell Baker Jr.’s first season as a full-time starter. Baker is currently working on his second degree in Business Management and is hoping that another year at Georgia Southern will help him with his dreams of playing in the NFL.
“Last year was my first year playing cornerback and I think another year in this system will really help me,” said Baker. “I really enjoy my position coach Keven Whitley and I feel like I have so much more I can learn from him to help me in the next level and of course I want to bring a championship to Georgia Southern as well.”
The Eagles conclude spring practice April 24 with the Blue/White game.