Here is what Georgia State is looking forward to in 2020 athletics

There are many new faces at the school, and more will continue to come in with next year’s recruiting classes. Photo by Mayowa Amosu | The Signal

New year, new goals. With the second decade of the century beginning, it only makes sense to speak into existence what we want to see from Georgia State athletics in 2020. 

1. A New Quarterback: Dan Ellington is arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks in Georgia State history. The two-year starter finished with the highest completion percentage in school history to go along with top-three rankings in all other passing categories, and a heroic last four games on a torn ACL.

Obviously, it will be impossible to replace Ellington’s impact not only on the field, but as a campus hero as well. However, with two three-star recruits and rising sophomore Cornelious Brown contending for the starting spot next year, the race for the starting job should be fun to watch.

“Dan is going to have a name that lasts around here for a long long time; he set a standard that is going to be hard to beat,” head coach Shawn Elliott said.


2. Speed on the Track: Still in its infancy, the team has made enormous strides in competing in the Sun Belt Conference in recent years. With first-year head coach Kyle Stevenson, they will look to keep their foot on the gas during the upcoming conference meets. 


“This program has transformed immensely from the team I came into four years ago, and we have an extremely talented group who are hungry for success,” senior hurdler Alexus Shaw said.


3. A Three-Peat for Men’s Basketball: In 2019, the men’s basketball team secured a second straight Sun Belt Conference title, the third in school history. As the team again sits atop the standings, trailing only behind Little Rock (-2.5) the mission is clear: defend our title. 


“They don’t have to be perfect; they got to do their best; they got to do it together,” head coach Rob Lanier said.


4. The First Football Game: Nobody is more prepared than Coach Elliott for this one.


“Right now, I don’t think we have any limits; we can push the envelope and reach more milestones each and every year, and we have that opportunity,” he said.

Although the season ended in an Arizona Bowl loss to Wyoming, the program continues to look up behind the leadership of Coach Elliott and returning players like Dontae Wilson, Cornelius McCoy and Pat Bartlett. The Panthers will take the field in their first game of 2020 against Murray State on Sep. 5. 


5. A Healthy Women’s Basketball Team: The women’s basketball team has been plagued with injuries this season, which has heavily stunted the team’s success. It would be difficult for any team to succeed with an injury bug but even more so with a team composed predominantly of underclassmen. The inexperience and lack of depth has been their Achilles’ heel, making it difficult for Coach Gene Hill to find a consistent starting lineup. 


“When you take away three kids who are heavily involved in the rotation … it affects it not only for just what they bring talent-wise and their skill level but just the rotation overall,” Coach Hill said after a loss to South Alabama.

The key to success for the team will be health in 2020.


6. The Continued Excellence of Men’s Soccer: Behind head coach Brett Surrency, the Panthers have been to five straight Sun Belt Conference championships. This could arguably be one of the best, if not the best run, for any sport in school history. The goal for 2020: extend the streak. 


“They’ve set the standard for men’s soccer in the conference and to just continue to set that standard and try to exceed that however possible,” Mike Holmes, associate athletic director, said.


7. A Humbled Men’s Basketball Team: “We want that to be ingrained in the program [humility]; we want these guys to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” head coach Rob Lanier said.


Coach Lanier is a head coach who strives to instill character in his players before anything else. Although on-court accolades and success are always the goal, one of the most important things any student-athlete can have is character off their stage. Humility is something that not only basketball players but all athletes at Georgia State could uphold. 


8. A Fast Start for Women’s Soccer: The women’s soccer team ended the regular season with four straight wins and even won a conference tournament game before losing to South Alabama. If not for the 3-4-1 start, the team could have potentially had better seeding for the tournament, which could have sparked a deeper run. 


“They are coming off the best second half of the season they have ever had, and they need to use that as momentum going into 2020,” Holmes said.


9. A Blue and White Cinderella Story: Everyone knows how the story goes: A low seed from a small conference that nobody really knows maybe got picked to get out of the first round in a few brackets. Then, all of a sudden, they shock the world and make a run to the Sweet Sixteen or even the Elite Eight. The underdog bracket buster story might be one of the best in all of sports.


Why not Georgia State? After consecutive first-round exits, could this be the year for a run?

“There should be no drop-off just because a new coach or new players come in; we want to set the standard for the league [Sun Belt] and take it even further. Others might not agree but to me, it’s NCAA tournament or bust,” Holmes said.


10. Passion: One of the biggest things Georgia State athletics needs in 2020 is passion. Not from the athletes, though — from the fans. 


“When I think of 2020 and what we can accomplish, I think of our fanbase; let’s generate more excitement with our students and build our fanbase. We were 5-1 at home, [so] let’s give them something they can really come and celebrate with us,” Coach Elliott said.

Many students come to Georgia State with loyalties to other larger athletic universities, blinding them from the great foundations being built right here. Yes, it is difficult to cheer for a team that is losing.

But Georgia State is starting to produce winners. With so much success in recent years, it is time for the fanbase to step up. It is time to put respect on the Panther name.