When it comes to recruiting Georgia Southern is like any other football playing school in the country: it’ll go where the players are.
Still with that thought in mind it is a bit unusual to see a player from Texas on the roster. As a rule Georgia Southern sticks to a territory that consists of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina with forays into Alabama and North Carolina and other assorted outposts.
Traver Vliem, for example, is from Midland, Texas, which is a bit off Georgia Southern’s recruiting path.
Vliem, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound redshirt junior, is a starting defensive end for GS and admits he didn’t know a lot about the school when he got a call from then new Eagle defensive coordinator Lorenzo Costantini.
Costantini had been recruiting Vliem for Central Florida when he was hired as Southern’s defensive coordinator by new head coach Tyson Summers.
“I had 26 offers,” Vliem said. “I had narrowed it down to the Air Force Academy, Boise State and Central Florida when I got a call from Coach Zo.
“I agreed to come to Statesboro for a visit,” Vliem recalled. “My parents didn’t come. I was the only player that weekend whose parents didn’t come with them but they showed me an incredible visit.
“The people were really nice and I was very impressed with the family atmosphere. I decided this was where I wanted to play.”
Vliem said his parents, Tom and Kelly, were happy and excited about his decision although they had not seen the campus.
“They knew Coach Costantini and were comfortable with him,” Vliem said. “They trusted him and the people surrounding him.”
Coming out of high school Vliem was given a three-star rating by scouting services Scout and 247Sports who had him ranked as the No. 13 defensive end in Texas and the No. 79 strongside defensive end in the country.
While he has started every game for the Eagles this season and has 49 tackles there have been some rough spots in the road for a player who is on track to graduate in December while earning Sun Belt Conference academic honors every year he’s been at Southern.
After a redshirt season in which he went from 235 to 260 pounds he spent last season dealing with his mother’s illness which resulted in her death this past summer.
“He’s had his troubles,” Coach Chad Lunsford said. “I don’t know how he’s dealing with it inside but I’m very proud of him.
“He’s mentally strong. He doesn’t let it affect the way he practices and plays after all the adverse things he’s gone thru. He exemplifies what we call the Georgia Southern man: he tries to do right all the time.”
Vliem is more than happy with his decision to cast his lot with the Eagles, especially after last year’s turnaround 10-3 season.
“That was my first winning season,” Vliem said. “In middle school and high school we were 5-5 several times.
“The way we won the way we did (turnaround from a 2-10 season) and went to a bowl game and won it was monumental for me.”
The Eagles (3-3) will be looking to go over the .500 mark against New Mexico State (0-7) on Saturday and Paulson Stadium. Vliem said the Eagles can’t take the Aggies lightly.
“We’ve got to prepare as hard as possible,” Vliem said. “We have got to embrace the process whether we’re playing Statesboro High or the New York Jets. We can’t go out this week and try and reinvent the wheel.”