Quotes and Notes from 2021 Sun Belt Media Day
Photo: Sun Belt Conference
Today was the unofficial start of the Sun Belt football season, as the conference hosted each coach and two student-athletes from each member-school at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans, LA, for Media Day. Georgia State was represented by head coach Shawn Elliott and a pair of “super seniors” – granted an extra year of eligibility because of the Covid season in 2020 – guard Shamarious Gilmore and defensive lineman Dontae Wilson. Here are some selected excerpts of what they had to say when they took questions from the media:
Coach Elliott’s opening statement:
“What an amazing year that we’ve had. Looking back at 2020, and all the obstacles, all the…distractions we had – with the Covid environment and the social issues and everything about it – it was just remarkable for our Georgia State football program and just what we stood for and how we kind of pushed through. We finished our season with a 6-4 record, on a high note – we were LendingTree Bowl champions – and really learned a lot about ourselves over the course of the year. Really interesting, because it seemed like time and time again, something different was thrown at us – another obstacle, so to speak – and I was really proud of our football team, our staff, at just how they persevered and push through, to end the way we did… They stood strong in adversity, and they had what I would consider a very successful year at Georgia State. As we look forward to this season, the 2021 season, hopefully we’re going to be able to navigate the course of Covid again, we’re going to have to tackle new issues, but we have a great group of seniors, we’ve got a great group of leaders that are really, I think, putting us in position to really excel on the field, excel off the field.”
Coach Elliott on the expectations of 2021:
“Five years ago, it was about ‘Let’s build a winning mentality, let’s go win our first bowl game.’ Now we’re sitting up here and saying, ‘Hey, let’s go push for a Sun Belt championship.’ We feel like we have the talent, we feel like we have the players, I think our coaching staff is phenomenal, and I think we have the ability to go out and compete. I think three of our four losses a year ago were by a total of 14 points, and then we had a kind of mind-boggling loss to Coastal (52-0 on October 31), but we found out one thing – that we can really compete in this league. When I say compete, we can compete with the Louisianas and we can compete with the top-tier teams in this league, and we’re ready to take that next step. And we talk about it. I’m not afraid and I’ve never been afraid to talk about winning a championship. We say start fast, finish strong. We’re talking about finishing for a championship. We’re going to go out and prepare each week and really take the next step.”
Dontae Wilson on what the defense has to carry over from the success at the end of last season:
“First thing first, like always, we want to work on stopping the run. And if we can stop the run, then we can get into passing situations, and that’s when we get after the quarterback. And we were able to have the success we had last year getting sacks. I think we led the conference in sacks (1st with 35) and we were pretty high in college football (tied for 7th nationally), so again, just stopping the run and getting to the quarterback.”
Shamarious Gilmore on the experience of the offense:
“The experience coming back – all of us are playing as one. And we always work to play as one. The starting five offensive linemen, we impress on the younger guys to come together, hang out. It’s more than just football. Us hanging out together, going to the pool, doing things like that, it brings all of us…as one.”
Gilmore on sophomore quarterback Quad Brown:
“A young quarterback [in the 2020 season] , he was going to make rookie mistakes – that’s what he was – but mentally, Quad has gotten ten times better, in my opinion. He’s just been in the film room, he’s staying and working with receivers, coming to [the offensive linemen], trying to learn rotations, learn wrinkles on rotations, when to hand it off, when to give it, so Quad has just been phenomenal this offseason. I just can’t wait to see him play again.”
- Earlier in the week, the Sun Belt Preseason Poll and Preseason All-Conference Teams were released, voted upon by Sun Belt coaches and selected media. Georgia State was picked 3rd in the East Division (with 24 points) behind co-leaders Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State (44 points each). Georgia Southern (20) and Troy (18) rounded out the East. In the West, the Ragin’ Cajuns earned top spot with 49 points, receiving 9 of the 10 first-place votes.
- The Panthers had 10 Preseason All-Conference, including four on the All-Sun Belt First Team. A trio of seniors – RB Destin Coates, G Shamarious Gilmore and K Noel Ruiz – were joined by junior WR Sam Pinckney in earning the top marks on the First Team. Seniors TE Roger Carter, WR Cornelius McCoy, DE Hardrick Willis, DL Dontae Wilson, CB Quavian White and sophomore S Antavious Lane made up the Panthers’ Second Team selections. Georgia State’s 10 selections made for the second-most behind Coastal Carolina’s 11.
Keep it locked here to THERSdayNight.com as we gear up for the 2021 season of Georgia State football!