Georgia State has signed 24 new football members for the 2015-16 season on National Signing Day (Feb. 4).
Last season, the Panthers finished the season 1-11.The team had holes in its defense and offense that contributed to the record.
Third-year Head Coach Trent Miles knows that the football program is still looking to find its identity in the Sun Belt Conference and across the nation. As is the case every place else, recruiting is a major key.
The recruiting strategy for the upcoming season was to get players from junior colleges. The Panthers have brought in 17 junior college transfers. A few of last year’s most productive players came from junior colleges or were transfers.
Quarterback Nick Arbuckle was a junior college transfer from St. Bonaventure and Pierce College in California. Wide receiver Donovan Harden was a transfer from Illinois State in 2012. TE Joel Ruiz was a transfer from Presbyterian.
Following the extinction of the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) football program, Georgia State sought after an opportunity to recruit some of the talent that UAB will no longer be able to keep. The Panthers were able to get six transfers from UAB.
Coach Miles is excited to have the former Blazers on campus. He will have the players go through winter workouts with the team.
“So far so good. I see them with smiles on their faces. They are doing a good job making sure they get to everything. They are blending in here like they’ve been here for six years,” Miles said.
The defensive side of the ball was a weakness last year and caused the offense to play ‘catch-up’ in most games. The team fined 128th last year in points given up, averaging 43.3 points per game.
Georgia State recruiters have worked to bring in experienced players defensively who fit Coach Miles’ style of play. A total of 11 signees are defensive players. Last season the Panthers had a difficult time with having substitutes when starters went down.
Miles made it imperative to have a full roster in case the team becomes shorthanded due to injury. There was a point in the 2014 season where the running game for the Panthers disappeared with the injury to Kyler Neal (So.) and the departure of former Texas recruit Krysten Hammon.
Cornerback Marcus Caffey (Jr.), who originally was listed as such, switched to offense throughout the season.
“Last year in the season we were at 60-something scholarship guys and now were going to be… once the Fall hits, we’re going to be in the 80’s. So, I know we’re catching up from a numbers stand point. We were short on scholarship numbers, so with bringing in mid-year players, we have 95 percent of our football team here going through winter conditioning,” Miles said.
Coach Miles mentioned that everyone has a fair chance to go out and win a starting job on the team. The third-year Georgia State head coach used the phrase “open competition” to describe the opportunity to fight for a spot on the starting 22.
“They are projected starters and positions, but everybody has to go out and compete all over against either ‘keep their job’ or ‘earn it,’” Miles said.
As coaches tend to do in recruiting, change of positions for players coming into college can occur. There is no definite certainty on switching an incoming freshman or mid-year players’ position as of yet.
“We’ll see as we go, we really can’t tell all that until we get them out there in pads and work with them football wise,” Miles said.
Transitioning from high school to college can be tough sometimes, even for junior college players to universities. Making sure adjustments are made smoothly and in a timely manner is important for a student-athlete.
Coach Miles thinks that the biggest change for the signees will be speed.
“It’s all about speed, the speed of everything, the speed of learning in the classroom as opposed to in high school, the speed on the field, the speed of the way we do things; that’s the biggest thing for young men to learn,” Miles said.
|2015-16 Georgia State Signees|
|Kendrick Dorn RB 6-0, 205 Fontana, California San Bernardino Valley CC
Chase Middleton LB 6-2, 225 Atlanta, Georgia Brookwood HS
DeQueszman Kelley DL 6-0, 285 Buena Vista, Georgia Coffeyville CC
Matlin Marshall ATH 5-10, 170 Evans, Georgia Evans HS
Julien Laurent DL 6-4, 325 Toronto, Ontario (New Mexico Military Institute)
Kaleb Ringer LB 6-0, 235 Claymont, Ohio Butler (Kan.) CC
Penny Hart WR 5-9, 170 Atlanta, Georgia King’s Ridge Christian School
Dom Roldan OL 6-6, 350 Virginia Beach, Virginia Grossmont College
Tyler Simonsen OL 6-3, 305 Redlands, California San Bernardino Valley CC
Kelepi Folau OL 6-3, 305 Concord, California UAB
Marquan Greene WR 5-10, 180 Moultrie, Georgia Colquitt County HS
Aaron Winchester QB 6-2, 170 Atlanta, Georgia Mount Pisgah HS
Demarcus Kirk RB 6-0, 190 Dora, Alabama Dora HS
Nyiakki Height WR 6-1, 190 Atlanta, Georgia UAB
Cloves Campbell DB 6-1, 205 Phoenix, Arizona Scottsdale CC
Alonzo McGee LB 6-1, 220 Sumter, South Carolina UAB
Kameron Myers WR 5-9, 175 Charleston, Mississippi East Mississippi CC
Bobby Baker S 6-2, 190 Sherman Oaks, California UAB
Charlie Patrick LB 6-0, 215 Atlanta, Georgia Mays
Demarco Davis CB 5-11, 175 Atlanta, Georgia UAB
Melliek Jackson S 5-11, 185 Miami, Florida Champagnat Catholic HS
Ed Curney LB 5-11, 220 Atlanta, Georgia Carver HS
Lucas Johnson OL 6-4, 285 Cartersville, Georgia Cass HS
Ari Werts TE 6-4, 225 Stone Mountain, Georgia Stephenson HS