Young players will define Georgia State football this season

The 2014 football season will be one of youth for Georgia State. When the Panthers take the field on August 27 to face Abilene Christian, the team will feature plenty of young players amongst a few guys with experience.

The Panthers’ roster includes only 14 redshirt or true seniors. Georgia State will also have 20 juniors on this year’s squad. This allows the team to lean on some leadership from its upperclassmen. But the majority of the Georgia State roster is young.

Over two-thirds of the Panthers’ current roster is made up of freshman and sophomores. This is includes the freshman that will be redshirting this season.

Of the 97 players listed on this year’s roster for the Panthers’, 32 are redshirt or true freshman and 31 are true or redshirt sophomores.

Among the young freshmen and sophomores comes a plethora of young, experienced, and potential breakout stars.

That group includes Mackendy Cheridor, who is returning to the team for his sophomore season. He initially saw action at tight end, then moved his way into the starting lineup at outside linebacker as a true freshman last season. He posted 34 tackles, which was second on the team, and 7.5 tackles for loss in a solid freshman campaign.

That young group of returners also includes the Panthers’ second leading receiver from last season in Robert Davis. He will look to fill the production void at wide receiver Albert Wilson graduating and entering the NFL. Davis caught 44 passes last season and scored four touchdowns as a freshman.

Roles are up for grabs with youth up and down the roster as the Panthers mold themselves into what they will become this football season.

An incoming freshman that maybe looked at to carve out a role early this season is cornerback Antreal Allen. The 5 foot, 11 inch corner from Auburn was widely considered a three star recruit and has the chance to step in and contribute.

Georgia State also has a number of new upperclassmen. This group includes potential starting quarterback, junior Nick Arbuckle, who is locked into the quarterback competition for the 2014 season.

Arbuckle comes to the Panthers from LA-Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California, where he had two impressive seasons. Arbuckle threw for 3,774 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2012 as a freshman. Last year, he followed that up with a 2,852-yard season along with 26 touchdowns. Arbuckle looks to have an inside track to become the starting quarterback for head coach Trent Miles this season.

Despite the new faces the team also has some key players that have an abundance of experience.

Junior Joseph Peterson has led Georgia State in tackles the last two seasons. He had 65 in his freshman season in 2012, then followed that up with a school record 103 tackles in 2013. Peterson has two more years of eligibility, making him a possible cornerstone for the ascent of the Georgia State football program.

Also returning is redshirt junior quarterback Ronnie Bell. Bell threw for a school record 2,573 yards as a redshirt sophomore along with 15 touchdown passes. Bell also adds another dimension to the offense as he is a mobile quarterback. He ran for 113 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.

Bell is also the Panthers’ all-time leading passer with 3,095 career yards. He is part of the ongoing quarterback competition that includes junior college transfer Nick Arbuckle, redshirt sophomore Clay Chastain, redshirt junior Ben McLane, and freshman Emiere Scaife from Mallard Creek High School in North Carolina.

The reality is that the Panthers will have a lot of new faces. Some of the familiar faces will be asked to play bigger roles as they go into their second season in the Sun Belt Conference.

Georgia State has less than a month for these new faces to find themselves in early season practices before things start to heat up and real games begin.

The Panthers have youth, but excitement is coming to a fever pitch as the new season is closing in and the possibilities and potential is evident.

Georgia State will be taking the field for the first game of the FBS schedule on August 27, 2014 at home against Abilene Christian.