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New faces for Eagles offense in 2021

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 8:31 PM EDT
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STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - The Georgia Southern University Eagles have a lot of new names and faces on offense and possibly some new wrinkles up their sleeves.

One week ago, the Eagles crossed the bridge over Beautiful Eagle Creek kicking off fall camp.

The team boasts a defense that returns eight starters and continuity with its fourth year under coordinator Scott Sloan, along with a dangerous backfield that includes preseason All-Sun Belt first team defensive player Derrick Canteen who is entering his redshirt sophomore year.

On the offensive side of the ball, the team has its first true quarterback battle in four years with Shai Werts departure to the University of Louisville. Out of spring ball, head coach Chad Lunsford had projected redshirt junior Justin Tomlin as the starter. But in the preseason press conference, he threw a curve ball.

“We knew after fall semester that he was not going to be eligible in the first few games, because of academic reasons. He did a really good job in spring semester, and he did a really good job during the summer, to make sure he didn’t lose any other eligibility, but he will not be available for the first two games,” Lunsford said.

Lunsford has since said that the front-runners for the starting job week one and two would be redshirt freshman Sam Kenerson or true freshman Cam Ransom.

“Compete every day. That’s what all the quarterbacks are doing. We’re all 100-percent, we’re all bought in, so whoever gets it, wins,” Kenerson said.

“I’m coming from a spread offense; you know what I’m saying? We’re a running team, so it’s kind of been- I’m not going to say tough. It’s kind of been a little different from what I did in high school, but you know what I’m saying, I’m gradually learning it and running it every day with JT teaching me the same thing every day too,” Ransom said.

Offensive Coordinator Doug Ruse served as the interim play caller for the final three games last season, but with an entire spring and summer under his belt, the Eagles offense may just have some new wrinkles to it this fall.

“We’re still going to be an option team. We’re going to be gun option. There’s going to be more tempo involved, you’re not going to see as much huddling. We’re going to try to run more plays. I want to be, and I know Coach Ruse is on the same page, I want to be more attacking. I want to be more, you know, let’s go set the tone with our offense. Let’s go make sure the defense is on their heels, obviously we want to light the scoreboard up a little more, and you know, really get in a situation where we can put people away sooner, rather than later,” Lunsford said.

With all new assistant coaches on that side of the ball, and many new faces under the helmets, the team has options. 5th year senior running back J.D. King is a leader on that side of the ball, and after an ACL tear last fall was back on the practice field.

Amare Jones, a senior running back transfer from Tulane, who played quarterback in high school was also taking snaps under center and former Georgia Tech quarterback James Graham has moved to wide receiver, but could always remain an option for the Eagles, too. The seniors were baptized in Beautiful Eagle Creek Monday, signaling that things are full-go in Statesboro.

An athletics spokesperson confirmed that currently 61 percent of the Eagles football team has had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Athletic Director Jared Benko said the plan is for full-capacity in the stadium next month.

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