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New Eagles signed up, new games on the horizon

February 02, 2018

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Statesboro in the early spring; there’s simply nothing like it: the campus bustling with students pushing towards spring break, the foliage blossoming into full, and the entire athletic department in full swing. For the average person, the only thing may notice on Feb. 1 is basketball coming to a peak in conference play, in which though not wrong, they are missing out on the true magic of most of Georgia Southern athletics. Speaking of this magic, I would like to think I know a thing or two about it, after all I am now proudly rooting for our Eagles as an intern at the Most Magical Place on Earth in Walt Disney World. That being said, just like a slow day at Disney World, there is a lot going on all around, so let us dive in!



The high-flying Eagles on the hardwood are probably the most notable squad among the Eagle Nation, and with good reason! As I previously wrote, this team was going to be fun to watch, and they have not disappointed. At the time of writing this, our Eagles are sitting on a 14-5 record, including a 5-1 record in Sun Belt play. Coming up in the month of February, the team has a couple of big time matchups that could swing our season big time. This includes a home game against the conference leader in the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on the 10th and the annual home game against the commuter school in Atlanta that is the fake GSU which is going to be on Friday the 16th on ESPN 2. I look forward to seeing Tookie, Ike, Mike, Jake and all the others to continue performing at a level that keeps us on the path for the Big Dance in March!



Signing Day is right around the corner, and Coach Lunsford and the entire staff have been working tirelessly to sign what is now being coined as the #NewEra18 class, which sounds much better than the former name of #Intimid18 for sure. As some of you may already know, the NCAA established an early signing period for football starting this year, and the Ted Smith Family Football Center had the fax machines working back in December. Eight high school seniors and junior college transfers put the ink to the paper to become Eagles in the first class of the Lunsford reign. The players are as follows:


Jontavious Ferguson: A linebacker from Manchester, Georgia

Deontae Grant: A safety from Bushnell, Florida

Zyon McGee: A safety from Bainbridge, Georgia

Javon Reid: A safety from Lincolnton, Georgia

Marcus Rogers: A wide receiver from Smyrna, Georgia

Najee Thompson: A safety from Boiling Springs, South Carolina

Justin Tomlin: A quarterback from Decatur, Georgia

Jawaski Webb: An offensive lineman from Senatobia, Mississippi


I feel very confident in the coaching staff’s recruiting skills, and am thoroughly looking forward to giving you all the complete report on all of the new Eagles next month, and preparing for the spring game, which will be in April at Paulson Stadium.

Speaking of the coaching staff, at the time of last month’s Connect issue, the staff still had some holes. However, those voids have been filled with some absolute knockout coaches. Coach Charlie Harbison comes to Statesboro with over 20 years of SEC and ACC experience, and will certainly use that to enhance the already phenomenal secondary we have on the roster. Coach Travis Cunningham comes to the Eagles after a 16-year stint at Gardener-Webb, where he was the Defensive Coordinator for the final two years. His extensive knowledge of the 3-4 defensive look will be an excellent addition to Coach Scott Sloan’s scheme, where he will be focusing on the inside linebackers.

Finally, Coach Ron Hudson brings experience from over 15 different programs to the offensive line, who is filling the place of Bob Bodine, who accepted another job at Lenoir-Rhyne.  Most recently, Coach Hudson was at Charleston Southern, so he is accustomed to a program that favors the running game. Another note, both coaches Rowell and Wood will still be on staff, but will have different positions. Coach Rowell is moving from secondary coach to outside linebackers, and Coach Wood is moving from wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach.



To me, spring truly starts when the first pitch is thrown. This year is no different, as the Eagles look to continue their consistently high play. After last year’s run to the Sun Belt Championship game for a second straight year, I look for them to get over the hump and win the belt this year. The team returns two of their three weekend starting pitchers in Brian Eichorn and Chase Cohen. Also returning is the reigning freshman All-American in Seth Shuman, who posted an 8-0 record last year, and will play a larger role in the rotation as he is no longer playing both football and baseball.

The voids to fill are at first base with Ryan Cleveland departing after a great run, and Logan Baldwin, who now plays for the San Francisco Giants. However, my biggest concern for the team is filling the bullpen. You may remember Landon Hughes, Jacob Condra-Bogan, Connor Simmons and Anthony Paesano as our go-to relievers, but they have all graduated, leaving the big X-factor. If Coach Hennon can fill the pen with arms like these, I have no doubt the team has a shot at making a big run in the coming months. The schedule is a good one for folks wanting to watch the team play some good games, as J.I Clements Stadium will play host to the 2016 College World Series Champs Coastal Carolina, the 2016 Sun Belt Champs Louisiana, and the commuter school that is Georgia State.

Also on tap is the annual series against the agricultural school in Athens/the team that can’t spell Bulldogs correctly/you get my hint. In all, Georgia Southern has a chance to make a big run with a strong schedule, some great starting pitchers, and some huge motivation of back-to-back runner-up finishes in the conference.

All of these sports are looking bright for the spring, but there is one thing you can do to help: support. I’m not talking financially, though if you can that is excellent. I am talking about your presence. If you can make a 3-hour drive to watch UGA play App State, you can DEFINITELY make a 10-minute drive to J.I. Clements Stadium, Hanner Fieldhouse or Paulson Stadium. If you are a Georgia Southern alum or student, you should be supporting the institution that has given you what it has given you, not the institution that has given you NOTHING. So support Georgia Southern anyway you can. The Eagles thank you, Georgia Southern University thanks you, and the Statesboro community thanks you!



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