How Coach Shawn Elliot Has Elevated Georgia State Football

Photo by Trent Legaspi | The Signal

In December 2016, Georgia State University hired Shawn Elliot as the football program’s head coach. Elliot’s been a part of 22 winning seasons and 20 postseason appearances during his career and has taken Georgia State to a bowl game four out of the five years he has been at the helm.

 “We set out to find for Georgia State a head coach who will energize our program and assemble a coaching staff that will recruit the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia with zeal. Shawn Elliott is the perfect coach to do just that,” Georgia State athletic director Charlie Cobb said

 Elliot was the very thing this program needed, a severe jolt of energy. In his first year on the job, he guided Georgia State to a victory in the AutoNation Cure Bowl over Western Kentucky. He broke the record with seven wins in a season his first year at the helm. 

 During the 2017 season, records were set on both sides of the ball. The defense ended the season, allowing the fewest points per game and the fewest rush yard allowed per game (136.4). On offense, the Panthers set multiple school records, including the highest completion percentage (64.2), fewest interceptions thrown in a season (9), most yards in a game (670), and most points vs. an FBS opponent (47).

 Even with such great success in his first year, Elliot inherited a senior-dominated roster built to win. The 2018 season was the first test of his team-building skills. It was a rebuilding year for the second-year head coach, who was forced to play numerous freshmen in key spots on offense and defense. Although they did not have as much success as the previous year, Elliot could see his young guys take in-game reps, which are invaluable when evaluating young talent.

 The 2019 season started with a massive 38-30 victory over Tennessee on the road, notching the program’s first win over a Power 5 opponent. This win catapulted the Panthers to another record-breaking season with seven regular season wins and going 5-1 on their home field.

 The 2019 team set numerous team and individual records. This season was the beginning of a new era at Georgia State. The standards were established for years to come, and Elliot was living up to his expectations.

 The progression from year to year has been apparent; Elliot has created a new standard for Georgia State football. Winning seasons and bowl appearances have become common occurrences during Elliot’s tenure.

 Elliot’s team was met with quite a bit of adversity during the 2020 season. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the entire landscape of college football and the world. Even with the significant challenges faced, the Panthers ended the season with a winning record that was capped off by a victory in the Lending Tree Bowl. This was the first time in school history they had back-to-back winning seasons.

 The 2021 season began shaky, with Georgia State facing the most challenging schedule for a Group of Five teams. Georgia State bounced back from a 1-4 start by winning seven of their last eight games. The eight regular season wins were the most in school history.

 This season embodied everything that Coach Elliot stands for. A 1-4 start is never good for morale, but Elliot and his team were able to weather the early storm and play some of their best football down the stretch. That is a sign of a well-coached team that never let their confidence waiver.

The beginning of the 2022 season is reminiscent of 2021, with Georgia State facing two power five teams in the first three weeks of the season. The Panthers are off to an 0-4 start, but if last season’s turnaround is indicative of how this year’s team will react, there is no need to hit the panic button just yet. The schedule eases up and the Panthers have looked highly competitive in their matchups thus far. One thing that can always be counted on is Elliot’s coaching and the juice he’ll bring to the table every week.