Pulling back the curtain on the uber-talented 2021 Panthers football team

New commits rank Georgia State 103rd in the nation and 5th in the Sun Belt Conference. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

The 2020 Georgia State football starters brought historic success on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

So why not bring back the team that had a 6-4 record and topped a successful season off with a LendingTree Bowl win?

Well, that’s what head coach Shawn Elliott and his staff did. They returned 20 of 22 starters from last season, 11 on the offensive and nine defensive ends.

But, there also will be some new faces and talent that will be sporting blue and white. 

Georgia State’s 2021 football recruiting class ranked 103rd in the nation and fifth in the Sun Belt Conference.

With that said, 15 fresh, new signees across southeast states, including North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Georgia, will join the roster in August.

In addition to incoming freshmen, the Panthers signed three transfers: Shamar McCollum from Wake Forest University, Ja’Cyais Credle from the University of Central Florida and Darren Grainger from Furman University. They will make their first appearances during spring practice.

Shamar McCollum, standing at a staggering 6 feet, 4 inches and weighing 222 pounds, adds his spice to the team as the nation’s leader in sacks.

“He is a bigger guy and a stronger, more powerful guy that could probably come down and play some inside stuff [that could] really help us on the run [game] in a lot of situations,” Elliott said. “I think he’s going to be a complete player.”

Cornelious “Quad” Brown earned the starting quarterback position last year, making Mikele Colasurdo his backup. But competition will undoubtedly arise for the backup position as Darren Grainger, a 6-foot-4-inch, 204-pound quarterback, storms in from Furman.

“We still have to go out there and compete at every position,” Elliott said. “Of course, Quad has the upper hand, having started [all season], but you’ve got Mikele Colasurdo that’s going to be pushing him, and you’ve got [Darren] Grainger that’s transferred in now. So there’s going to be some real good competition.”

Jamarion Ellis, or as Elliott calls him, “Jam,” committed to Georgia State in December as a three-star recruit after topping off his final season at IMG Academy with a perfect 8-0 record.

“Jam is going to be one of the more interesting stories,” Elliott said. “He’s bulked up a little bit — bigger, stronger [and] faster. I think Jam’s going to be a huge contributor. I think he’s maybe one of the most explosive players that we do have on the offensive side of the ball. He’s quick as a cat, and it’s hard for guys to get him down.”

Tylon Dunlap, a defensive lineman from Harding University High in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the only early enrollee who is not a transfer.

In his 2019 season as a high school Junior, Dunlap recorded 106 tackles and 19 sacks with Harding University High.

All other commits will officially join the football program in June. 

“As far as communication with our other signees, we do exactly [what] we’ve always done,” Elliott said. “Constant communication, whether it’s a phone call, text, FaceTime or Zoom. All of those other guys will be here in June, but the three that we do have here are ready to get started, and they’re ready to go out there and practice some football.”