AT A GLANCE
POSITION COACH: Josh Stepp (5th year at GSU, 1st year as recruiting coordinator)
RETURNING STARTER: Super-senior Roger Carter* (285 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2020, tied for 1st all-time with Keith Rucker with 10 total receiving touchdowns by a Georgia State tight end)
RETURNING CONTRIBUTORS: Super-senior Aubry Payne (6 touchdowns on 13 catches in 2019), junior Herman McCray, sophomore Ahmon Green, redshirt-freshman Kris Byrd
NEW NAMES: None
KEY LOSSES: None
* = projected starter
The entire same tight end group is back from 2020, with no additions and not subtractions. While there’s a lot to be encouraged by with the young tight end talent in the form of Ahmon Green and Kris Byrd, the impact of both Roger Carter and Aubry Payne coming back for their super senior season cannot be overstated. The tight ends are asked to do a lot in offensive coordinator Brad Glenn’s scheme, everything from going out as a receiver with an extensive route tree to blocking down in the run game – sometimes as the point man on a given run play – and Roger and Aubry have been notable cogs of the Georgia State offense in 2019 and 2020.
Aubry Payne was unable to continue his blistering scoring pace he managed during his first season in Atlanta in 2019, but that knack for just finding himself wide open that he exhibited all through that season can’t have gone away. And as for Roger Carter, he’s exemplified the growth of this program under Shawn Elliott perhaps better than any other player. He fought his way into the rotation as a true freshman in 2017 and has only developed as a college tight end from there. The ability to run two-TE sets and not lose any potential heavy weaponry in the passing game is a luxury Coach Glenn will be looking forward to having back. The production between the two dipped in 2020 ever so slightly, from 41 catches for 538 yards with 9 scores in 2019 to 33 catches for 356 yards and 4 scores (all by Carter). Getting back to or even exceeding those levels from two seasons ago would pay dividends for a Georgia State offense trying to tap into another echelon of production in 2021.
The depth here with just five scholarship players may not be as pronounced as in other spots on the roster, but the depth here is quality nonetheless. It’s a great situation for all involved. The return of the two super-seniors gives the young guys a chance to continue to develop at their own pace and it gives this position group a really high floor, but if any of the backups are showing out in practice and offering something to the team – whether that’s in the passing game or in the run blocking, a la former Panther Camrin Knight – the coaching staff won’t hesitate to let them play.