Five Takeaways from December's Signing Class
The first group of 2020 Panthers has signed – with five already enrolled in the school this month – during the early signing period in late December. Coming off a bowl win and a program-high seven regular season wins but only losing 11 scholarship seniors, head coach Shawn Elliott was able to add more than he lost in numbers in just this early signing class – and these 16 players figure to help add depth across the roster. Here’s the list of new Panthers and THERSday Night’s five takeaways from the signing class as a whole:
- Justin Abraham, ILB (6-1, 233) – Hartsville, SC
- *Jonathan Brown, OL (6-4, 278) – Anderson, SC
- *Kris Byrd, TE (6-1, 200) – Lyman, SC
- Marcus Carroll , RB (5-10, 192) – Union City, GA
- *Mikele Colasurdo, QB (6-1, 210) – Inman, SC
- Mason Cook, OL (6-3, 258) – Columbus, GA
- Chandler Durham, OL (6-3, 266) – McDonough, GA
- Jacob Freeman, WR (5-11, 195) – LaGrange, GA
- Terrell Gordon, ATH (6-1, 190) – Phenix City, AL
- Ahmon Green, TE (6-2, 232) – Columbia, SC
- Robert Lewis, WR (5-11, 171) – Covington, GA
- Jeff Miller, OL (6-2, 280) – Seffner, FL
- *Jalen Tate, DB (6-0, 173) – Pelzer, SC
- Christian Thomas, WR (6-3, 190) – Loganville, GA
- *Jamyest Williams, ATH (5-9, 181) – Athens, GA
- Tailique Williams, WR (5-9, 165) – Pine Mountain, GA
* = January enrollee
Weights and hometowns courtesy of Georgia State Athletics
1 – Speed kills
This signing class adds three smaller WRs with a penchant for speed in Jacob Freeman, Robert Lewis and Tailique Williams to pair with the consistent performance of top receiver Cornelius McCoy and the big target of Sam Pinckney (who signee Christian Thomas should be able to back up quite well). After the early-season injury to Terrance Dixon, the depth at slot receiver for the Panthers really thinned out and a certain big-play dynamism was largely missing from the passing attack. Over the next three to five seasons, these three new Panthers figure to add a new type of weapon for the new signal-caller to rely on and possibly can be a threat in the return game. Likewise, speedy signee RB Marcus Carroll replaces the program’s greatest running back in Tra Barnett. While returnees Seth Paige and Destin Coates figure to slide up in the running back depth chart, Carroll should be a rotational option at the position from his arrival on campus.
2 – More beef
In his introductory press conference in Atlanta, Shawn Elliott made clear he intended to bring his preferred style of rushing attack to the Georgia State program – and given his history as an offensive line coach, it’s hardly a surprise this has come to fruition in the form of a totally transformed offensive line room. Before Coach Elliott’s first class of recruits, there were six scholarship offensive linemen on the roster. He’s added four alone in this December signing period – Jonathan Brown, Mason Cook, Chandler Durham and Jeff Miller. With left tackle Hunter Atkinson’s eligibility exhausted, one starting position along the line is up for grabs and there’s now a veritable army of big linemen on the roster to compete for snaps.
3 – QB1?
The quarterback position is one of the only positions truly up in the air this offseason for Georgia State. With the departure of two-year starter Dan Ellington, the Panthers will have to replace a truly dynamic leader who helped transform the offense into a top Sun Belt unit. Redshirt freshmen QBs Cornelious “Quad” Brown and Jamil Muhammad (a transfer from Vanderbilt) are already on the roster and they will be joined by a South Carolina Mr Football finalist in Chapman HS’s Mikele Colasurdo. Colasurdo has enrolled early, so these three will begin their competition to replace Ellington from spring practice onwards. Short of any graduate transfers coming in to start, this represents a real opportunity for one of Brown, Colasurdo and Muhammad to be Georgia State’s first four-year starter at quarterback.
4 – Adding strength to strength at tight end
The tight end group was not only one of the more improved position groups for Georgia State in 2019, they were also in the conversation for the best position group on the team. Roger Carter, Aubry Payne and Camrin Knight combined to offer good passing outlets for Dan Ellington and elite blocking along the line. With Carter and Payne set to enter their final year of eligibility in 2020, Coach Elliott and staff have added two dynamic freshmen in Kris Byrd and Ahmon Green – a QB in high school – to join Herman McCray and Avery Reece in the wings at tight end. It’s clear how important the tight ends are to all facets of Brad Glenn’s offense, and this signing class shows the staff’s intention to see no dropoff after losing two seniors next offseason.
5 – Replacing seniors in the middle of the defense
The defensive side of the ball lost its two captains in safety Remy Lazarus and linebacker Ed Curney. This December signing class replaces both in the way of DB Jalen Tate (and possibly ATH Terrell Gordon, depending on where he lines up) and ILB Justin Abraham respectively. The Panthers defense struggled, especially down the stretch, in 2019 and impact players are needed. In looking for answers, Coach Elliott and his staff won’t be turned away from a player’s class designation. If these freshmen – or, indeed, any of the freshmen who redshirted in the 2019 class – are the ones making an impact in practice, there will be no hesitation to throw them into action to help the Georgia State cause.