Fresh off Georgia State’s 27-17 AutoNation Cure Bowl victory, 17 young players signed their National Letters of Content to become Panthers. The first early signing period in college football history comes on the heel of Georgia State’s first bowl victory in program history. Nine defensive and eight offensive players signed to head coach Shawn Elliott’s program.
“What a great class. I think our coaches did a great job in solidifying the spots that we needed in this early signing period,” Elliott said. “We try to find the best individuals to come join our program, the best fits for Georgia State University who have the opportunity to come here and be successful, and I think we’ve done that.”
Many coaches across the country, especially those of Power 5 conferences have expressed their unhappiness with the new early signing period. Elliott and his staff were not bothered by the change.
“It really didn’t change the calendar, because right now you’ve got to recruit year-round. You’ve got to really push the envelope and recruit every single day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Elliott said.
However, the Panthers enjoyed just three days in between their bowl game and the early signing period.
“What it did do was make us push up our visits as we were preparing for a bowl game. That made it made it a little bit hectic, but it turned out to be great. We had great visits. All in all, I’m a big fan of this early signing period,” Elliott said.
The historic season’s impact may not be felt until the class of 2019 signs in next December.
“I think becoming bowl eligible and having the success that we had this season has helped, but overall I don’t think the bowl game itself has helped for this class,” Elliott said. “Now will it help for years to come? Certainly. And we’re certainly proud of that. When you go and be AutoNation Cure Bowl Champs and they have the ability to spread the word and all the publicity we got across the country for winning that contest against Western Kentucky, it will certainly help for many years to come.”
First season with Elliott under the books
The class of 2018 is the first class Elliott was able to recruit for year-round. Elliott, who took the job just over a year ago signed 20 student-athletes in January of 2017. In the classroom during Elliott’s first semester in Atlanta, his team earned a 3.03 GPA (grade-point average), the highest in program history.
Academic strength is a trait Elliott desires in recruits, but there are endless pieces to the puzzle of what makes a Panther these days.
“I talk about maturity. I talk about discipline. I talk about athleticism. Academically, they’ve got to be capable of coming in here and doing the work,” Elliott reeled off. “Those are the things you’ve got to understand on what builds a strong football foundation. You look at their family background. You look at their parents. You look at who’s around them, how they interact with others and their coaching from their high school.”
Looking forward to next season
Perhaps the most anticipated signee is junior college quarterback, Dan Ellington from Itawamba (Miss.) Community College. According to 247 Sports, three-star Ellington is the seventh-ranked dual threat quarterback from the junior college ranks.
“Any time you sign a junior college player, like a Dan Ellington, you expect him to come in with the maturity to compete at a high level right away,” Elliott said. “That’s certainly the case with our junior college signees – they are physically and mentally ready to compete.”
The Panthers welcome in three offense and four defensive lineman. When Georgia State lost games in 2017, they struggled keeping quarterback Conner Manning upright, running the ball and applying pressure on the opposing quarterback.
“I’m a former defensive lineman and I coached the offensive line, so we’re going to solidify our fronts on both sides the football, first and foremost, and then branch out from there,” Elliott said. “I think good football teams have those lines that can really handle it up front. Until we get where we need to be, we’re going to continue to recruit those areas hard and sign players to help us.”
Elliott wants to make sure his players are healthy after the long season which stretched into mid-December. He will decide when spring practice begins shortly after classes resume on January 8. The Panthers held their first practice on March 20 during last spring.
- Despelado Alexandre (OL, 6’5, 265, Deerfield Beach, Florida, Deerfield Beach)
- Johnathan Bass (OL, 6’4, 270, Marietta, Georgia, Kell)
- Diondre Champaigne (WR, 6’3, 195, North Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Dorchester/ Jones County (Miss.) JC)
- Dan Ellington (QB, 6’2, 192, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Center Hill/Itawamba (Miss.) CC)
- Dawson Hill (RB, 5’11, 190, Plantation, Florida, South Plantation)
- Brandon Joseph (OL, 6’2, 280, Lawrenceville, Georgia, Central Gwinnett)
- Cornelius McCoy (WR, 5’10, 170, Deerfield, Florida, Deerfield)
- Herman McCray (TE, 6’4, 230, West Palm Beach, Florida, Oxbridge Academy).
- Blake Carroll (ILB, 6’2, 219, Lawrenceville, Georgia, Mountain View)
- Jacorey Crawford (S, 6’1, 205, Thomson, Georgia, Thomson)
- Tyler Gore (CB, 5’10, 170, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, North Myrtle Beach)
- D’Angelo Knight (OLB, 6’2, 215, North Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Dorchester)
- Tre Moore (DE, 6’2, 230, Johnston, South Carolina, Storm Thurmond)
- T..J. Smith (DE, 6’3, 242, Laurinburg, North Carolina, Scotland)
- Akeem Smith (DT, 6’0, 292, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Bishop Sullivan Catholic)
- Marlon Young (DE, 6’3, 245, Opelousas, Louisiana, Opelousas)
- Quavian White (CB, 5’9, 182, Greer, South Carolina, Greer)