Position Battles at Eagles Camp

Anyone who has ever been to Statesboro in August knows how grueling heat and humidity is. Along the banks of Beautiful Eagle Creek daytime temperatures regularly climb to well over 90°F with humidity well over 80%. The air is thick with biblical-sized swarms of gnats and mosquitoes that hatch from the various swamps, rivers, ponds, and mystical drainage creeks that populate the Greater Bulloch County area. Personally, I remember days, where the heat index would climb to well over 130°F and felt like the world’s largest outdoor steam room. Fall semester move-in days in mid-August were particularly painful affairs. It’s the type of heat only a Southerner can truly appreciate. Makes you wonder if the heat in any way inspired the song Statesboro Blues.

Surviving training camp here is a test of character and will. It has been this way since 1981, a case of iron sharpening iron in tough conditions, with just a dash of water from Beautiful Eagle Creek thrown in there for good luck. While the team has caught a break earlier on with decent weather, the temperature is starting to climb. But it is this hot pressurized environment has produced the many diamonds sitting on the championship hardware inside the trophy display at the Ted Smith Football Center. The 2017 team is looking to add to that legacy.

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By the time students start class on August 14, the Georgia Southern Football Team will have completed their third week of practice. The Eagles were one of the earliest teams in the country to start Fall Camp. For a fan base that is antsy for a bounce-back season, reasons for optimism are starting to emerge. With all this extra time to prepare, they hosted their first public scrimmage with a Fan Fest afterward this past Friday at Paulson Stadium. It was the first opportunity that Eagle fans have had to see what the 2017 version of the team will look like. Position battles that were once complete mysteries are now more clear. So how does everything look?

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Offense

QB  Shai Werts has emerged as the frontrunner at the QB spot. Coach Tyson Summers has said he would announce a starter right around the first week of school. But it looks like Werts has the inside track. He has already drawn comparisons from observers to Eagle greats such as Greg Hill and J.R. Revere. Despite what he personally admitted was a subpar performance Friday, Werts still looked poised back there. The mere fact that he admitted that he made mistakes shows leadership and accountability. This isn’t to say that he’s the only good QB in camp now. LaBaron Anthony had a great Friday night with a pair of TD passes including a 71-yard bomb to Obe Fortune. Because of the pounding that the QB takes in the Triple Option offense, Anthony will see his fair share of snaps this season. Kado Brown and Jaalon Frazier round out the depth chart and are still learning the ropes. Frazier will most likely redshirt.

RB  With LA Ramsby and Wes Fields at the top of the depth chart, the runningback position is stable. But that hasn’t stopped Monteo Garrett. Former QB Monteo Garrett put on a show Friday with three TDs including from both 67 and 39 yards. Garrett does have top-end speed and is vying to fill Matt Breida’s former role in the backfield as the home run hitter. Freshmen Matt LaRouche and Grant Walker also had good evenings; it is unclear who will avoid the redshirt with such a loaded backfield.

WR/SB/TE  A quintet of Obe Fortune, D’Ondre Glenn, Mark Michaud, Malik Henry, and Darion “D1” Anderson are competing for playing time at the top of the Eagle depth chart at wide receiver. Dexter Carter is also looking to crack the rotation. Myles Campbell and Ellis Richardson had nondescript nights but both of their spots are safe at Slot and TE respectively. John Wesley Kennedy is a talented freshman that could see action in both the backfield and at receiver. 

OL  No surprises here Bob Bodine has BoyntonCulbrethRaineyNorthrup, and Wilson running like a well-oiled machine.

 

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Defense

DL  Deshon Cooper and Traver Vliem have emerged as the top two Defensive Ends with freshman Brian Miller making a real great case for playing time as a true freshman. Miller added 40 lbs of muscle in the offseason. Cooper has also drawn rave reviews from coaches, fans, and players. If breakout players emerge at DE, that gives the defense the luxury of moving Logan Hunt inside to play next to Darrius Sapp at DT.

LB  Todd Bradley, Chris DeLaRosa, and Rashad Byrd look like the starters with guys like Tomarcio Reese and Chris Harris is pushing for playing time. They played well and were flying around making plays. The energy has been incredible from this group. The length and speed at LB has improved. Credit to Dwayne Chandler and the Strength and Conditioning program.

Secondary  Probably our best unit and among the best in the conference. Monquavion Brinson, Jessie Liptrot, Kindle Vildor, and Christian Matthew are four solid corners that will come in handy against spread offenses. Moon and Bowdry are solid at safety, and RJ Murray has emerged as a favorite at nickelback. Sean Freeman will compete for playing time at several spots in the defensive backfield. 

 

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Other Notes

  • Matte Blue Helmets – Those with keen eyesight might have spotted this already but the helmets are slightly different. There’s a matte finish instead of a gloss. It might not matter much to outsiders, but this is a fan base in tune with even the subtlest of uniform changes.
  • Jarrett Stidham – The projected Auburn starter Stidham had an awful scrimmage and threw two INTs. Eagle fans looking for a ray of hope in the opener need to keep an eye on the Baylor transfer’s competition with Sean White. The 35 point spread in that game is starting to look enticing.
  • Flexbone Sighting – All is well.

 

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