Georgia State Panthers

Moving On Up

By: JJ Lanier news services

It’s a rare occasion when you can say a college football team that has never won more than seven games in a season, and in fact has only two winning seasons throughout their program’s history, is considered a successful football program.

Those accolades are normally reserved for an eight-year-old in the form of a participation trophy. However, when it comes to Georgia State football, they are that exception.

Moving from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is an adjustment for any team; some programs do acclimate themselves a little quicker than others. Regardless of whether you are an established program, or one just starting out, the transition can be unpredictable.

In Georgia State’s case, there was little reason to believe they would see any modicum of success after making the transition from FCS to FBS.

The football program didn’t even exist until 2010 and during the three years they spent on the FCS level, Georgia State has a combined record of 10-23. (The final two years their record was only 4-18).

Expecting them to be able to compete at all would be like giving me a guitar and waiting for me to tear into “All Along the Watchtower”, Jimi Hendrix style.

Yet, while Georgia State may not be at Jimi Hendrix level, so to speak, they have performed much better than anticipated.

After their initial first two years in the Sun Belt, which resulted in zero conference wins and only a single victory overall, they have become a legitimate competitive force within the conference.

I realize we live in an age where there are almost as many bowl games as there are football teams, but still it’s pretty remarkable that Georgia State has played in a bowl game in two of the past three years; they won their first ever bowl game last year against Western Kentucky in the Cure Bowl.

I’m not saying Georgia State is running unencumbered through their schedule, but considering they only won eleven games total during their first five years, making two bowls games in three years is something to be proud of.

Just for comparison, Georgia Southern has only been to one bowl game since arriving to the Sun Belt. (Yes, it’s a little misleading since the Eagles weren’t eligible for a bowl game during their first year in the conference due to a ridiculous NCAA rule. But even if they had been allowed to play in a bowl game, the bowl appearances between both schools would be equal.)

Regardless of what division level of athletics you play at in college, moving up in competition is never a guaranteed thing. A small college close to me just announced the other day that after transitioning from Division III to Division II a few years ago, they are transitioning back following this season. They just couldn’t compete at that level.

That easily could’ve been the Georgia State football program. Would anyone have been surprised to see them struggle and ultimately move back down to the FCS level?

Instead, they have shown the decision to join the Sun Belt was the correct one, and not just for financial reasons; they can compete.

Ten years ago, who would have predicted that?




NCAA Tourney Contenders and Pretenders

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The NCAA tournament begins this week. This is the biggest sporting event other than the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at some of the teams from around the Southeast that made it in.

The Pretenders…

Georgia State: The Panthers (24-10) won the Sun Belt conference tournament. Coach Ron Hunter also led GSU to the tournament in 2015. GA State is the No. 15 seed in the South bracket and they play No. 2 seed Cincinnati. This would be a huge upset but I don’t see that happening.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide (19-15) snuck in the tournament. They finished 9th in a pretty weak conference. Advancing to the SEC Championship game is why they are in.

Freshman sensation Collin Sexton will be an NBA lottery pick in this year’s draft. Bama is the No.9 seed in the East and they face No. 8 Virginia Tech in the first round. I think they will win that game but they would play No. 1 Villanova in the next round. Their dreams will end after that game.

Arkansas: It must seem like I’m just picking on the SEC. The Razorbacks (23-11) finished fourth in the SEC. They are also in the East region and the No. 7 seed. They face No. 10 Butler and that will be a tough game. If they win they should face No. 2 Purdue in the second round. That means exit stage left.

Florida State: Another football school is having a resurgent year on the court. The Seminoles (20-11) are No. 9 in the West and take on No. 8 Mizzou. Talented freshman Michael Porter Jr. is returning from injury so I’m not sure if he will be rusty. The 6’10 forward was the top recruit in the country for the class of 2018 so he will give Missouri a great chance to win the game.

Clemson: honestly if this was a team with a winning history I would be more confident. The Tigers (23-9) had a very good year and finished third in the ACC. In the Midwest region they are the dreaded fifth seed. The twelve versus five game typically has several upsets each year. They will play New Mexico State. If they win they face the winner of No. 4 Auburn and No. 13 Charleston. I actually like their chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen but not beyond that.

The contenders…

Kentucky: The Wildcats (24-10) had a very inconsistent. They finished the regular season fourth in the conference but won the SEC tournament. Coach Cal always complains about seeding but he actually has a point this year. Kentucky is the fifth seed in the South and play No. 12 Davidson in the opening round. Round 2 should be against No. 4 Arizona.

The Wildcats recruit so well that they are more talented than most teams they play.

Duke: The Blue Devils are the No. 2 seed in the Midwest and they play No. 15 Iona in the first round. They would get the Oklahoma/Rhode Island match up in the second round. This is another blue blood program that has top 3 recruiting classes every year.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels are the defending national champions. They have the No. 2 seed in the West and take on No. 15 Lipscomb. They will get the Texas A&M/Providence winner.

UNC isn’t as good they were last year but they have upperclassman leadership. They advanced to the national championship the past two years and look to make a new dynasty.


Georgia State Panthers Preview

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

As an Atlanta native I’m still getting used to Georgia State having a football program.

The Panthers began playing football in 2010. By comparison Georgia and Georgia Tech’s inaugural season was 1892. Georgia Southern started playing in 1924. So, it’s an understatement to say GA State lacks in tradition.

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Glynn Academy Sends 16 To Next Level

jasonnewBy: Jason Bishop news services

National Signing Day has come and gone and the Glynn Academy Red Terrors had 16 kids sign to play at the next level…yes, 16.

Rocky Hidalgo has built a juggernaut in the short three years he has been at Glynn. When you have 16 kids sign to play college football there is no denying.

DeeJay Dallas-Dallas was a Georgia commit until the firing of Mark Richt. Kirby Smart and his coaching staff had other priorities than Dallas, thus driving the Glynn QB to follow Mark Richt to Miami. Georgia will regret not getting this ‘do-everything’ gifted athlete. Dallas has already enrolled at Mia

Zalon’tae Hillery-Hillery ended up being one of the most sought after offensive lineman in the country. Hillery was thought to be going to Miami all along, until some last-minute indecision. Hillery was strongly considering Kentucky until a phone conversation with Mark Richt eased his indecision and Hillery was back in the Canes fold.

Preston Joseph-Joseph was a Stallworth on the Glynn defense and despite being slightly undersized the Red Terror standout played his way to a Georgia Military College.

Devon Peacock-As the season went on for Glynn, Peacock got better and better. So much so that Georgia State decided to offer him a preferred walk on spot. With Peacock’s abilities he will garner a scholarship in Atlanta sooner rather than later.

Xavier McClinton-The one Terror that did not commit on signing day was Xavier McClinton. McClinton got offers from Georgia Tech, Stetson and FAMU.

Quintavius Walker-Good offensive linemen are hard to find. Walker did a great job run blocking all year and protecting DeeJay Dallas at QB. Eastern Arizona took notice and got Walker to commit. This is a steal for Eastern Arizona.

Quandry Mosely-Speaking of steals for Eastern Arizona, here is another. Quandry Mosely is a ball hawking safety that can also play receiver. Mosely is 6’2 and 170 pounds and I think will become one of the better safeties to ever play at Eastern Arizona.

Amari Cross-It is a long-standing tradition at Glynn Academy; if your last name is Cross you are going to play football at Glynn. Amari Cross was no exception and was a pillar for the Terror running attack this season on the offensive line. Kennesaw State took notice and offered Amari Cross a preferred walk on spot. With Cross’s size and footwork he will have every opportunity to garner a scholarship for the Owls.

Devin Roberson-Roberson was one of the better pass rushers in the region. Ridgewater College got a huge commitment from Roberson, who has a motor that doesn’t stop.

Travis Harris-Harris came on strong as the season progressed and showed his abilities in the secondary. He committed to Ridgewater College.

Shakour Thomas-Thomas was one of DeeJay Dallas’s favorite targets at receiver and showed a lot of big play potential. He is one of seven Terrors to commit to Ridgewater College.

Vance Rowe-Rowe was a vastly underrated player for the Terrors. Ridgewater College will certainly look to develop Rowe in the secondary.

Tre Sailem-Sailem was one of the better corners for the Terrors. He has everything you could want in a DB. Another Ridgewater College steal.

Trashawn Bacon-Ridgewater College gets an underrated OL in Trashawn Bacon. Bacon did an amazing job for the Terrors all year.

Jeremiah Anderson-Anderson came back from a serious knee injury this season and was a key contributor running the ball for Glynn. He may be the most talented player that Ridgewater College signed.