AT A GLANCE
POSITION COACH: Darius Eubanks (first year at GSU)
RETURNING STARTERS: Senior Chris Moore*, sophomore Antavious Lane*
RETURNING CONTRIBUTORS: Senior Chris Bacon, senior Keon Carter, senior Tyler Gore (switched from CB), redshirt freshman Tyreke Harrison, sophomore Jaquez Pennimon, redshirt freshman Jalen Tate
NEW NAMES: Ronald Cooper, Makkah Jordan (both freshmen)
KEY LOSSES: None
* = projected starter
With no major losses and each of the two primary starters and backups from 2020 returning, experience is abundant in the Georgia State safeties room. The Panthers will call on Antavious Lane and Chris Moore to take the majority of the snaps at safety in 2021. Lane is fresh off a 2020 campaign that saw him secure an All-Sun Belt Second Team selection for his work leading the Panthers’ defensive backfield. Lane led Georgia State last season with joint-school-record four interceptions. To go along with his all-conference selection, Antavious was awarded with AP All-Bowl team honors for his work in the 2020 LendingTree Bowl victory. Moore enters his second year with the Panthers after transferring from Virginia prior to the 2020 season. He played in all 10 games in 2020 and helped anchor the defensive backfield for the Panthers. The two form a strong duo on the backend and will look to bring the thump at the back end of the Georgia State defense.
When the Panthers needed substitutes for their starting safeties, they called upon Chris Bacon and Keon Carter to take the field. Bacon has primarily been a backup during his Georgia State career but has started when the Panthers have called his number in each of his previous three seasons. He has been known to be a ballhawk, bringing down an interception in each of his first two seasons at Georgia State. While he didn’t record an interception during the 2020 season, Bacon still had a pass deflection and finished top 10 on the team in total tackles. While never cementing himself as a starter, Bacon has showcased good coverage skills during his time in the Panther secondary and provides much needed depth at the safety position. Carter returns for his third season, and although he spent most of the 2020 season on special teams, he did start in the season’s final few games in Antavious Lane’s absence. Carter has shown great tackling instincts and uses his speed and size to stop ball carriers in their path. A former walk-on, Keon was rewarded for his hard work with a scholarship at halftime of the 2021 spring game and will be on a full ride the rest of his time in Atlanta. Outside of Tyler Gore, it remains to be seen how much playing time the remaining members of the Panthers’ safety room will see. Tyler moves to safety after lining up at cornerback his first three seasons and has been a constant contributor in his time at State. Tyreke Harrison and Jaquez Pennimon are underclassmen and should reprise their roles as special teams members, but they could be called into duty should the need arise in the secondary.
Throughout Coach Elliott’s early years as Georgia State head coach the one thing that plagued those Panthers teams was youth in the defensive backfield, however that is no longer the case. With no losses to speak of, and a mix of top flight talent in Antavious Lane including a supporting cast of starting caliber players to supplement him, Georgia State’s safeties room has the potential to be one of the best position groups on the defensive side of the ball. Their expectations for themselves will be the Sun Belt title, so if this defensive group can stop even the most pass-happy Sun Belt teams, it will help raise Georgia State’s entire defensive profile.
NEXT UP: Cornerbacks