THERSday Night All-Decade Team: Defense/Special Teams
Written by Brady Weiler and David Salmon
Last month, we brought you the All-Decade Team for the Georgia State offense (https://thersdaynight.com/thersday-night-all-decade-team-offense/) Now, as we wrap up our look back at the decade that was for Georgia State football, here’s THERSdayNight.com’s All-Decade Team for Defense and Special Teams.
Mackendy Cheridor (2013-2017)
Coming into Georgia State as a slightly undersized 235-pound DE/OLB, Mackendy’s role and stature grew immensely as he went through college, eventually finishing his career as a 275-pound force off the edge and the most prolific pass-rusher in program history. His 10.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles are tops in the Panther record books and he ranks second with 25 tackles for loss. Those top marks were cemented in Mackendy’s final game in Georgia State blue – a two-sack, one forced fumble effort in the 2017 Cure Bowl win over Western Kentucky.
Marterious Allen (2015-2018)
With his time at Georgia State equally split between Coach Miles and Coach Elliott, Marterious was able to contribute solid work across the best three-year stretch for the Georgia State defense (2015-2017). A 2017 Third Team All Sun-Belt selection, Allen ranks third all-time at GSU with 8.5 sacks and holds the distinction of being the only Georgia State defensive lineman to score a touchdown – a 23-yard scoop and score versus UT-Martin in 2016. His single-game tally at ULM in 2017 of 3 sacks remains a school record.
Honorable mention: Shawayne Lawrence (2013-2016)
Christo Bilukidi (2010-2011)
After getting a late start to his football career – playing just one year of the sport at Ottawa’s St Patrick’s High – Christo Bilukidi transferred into Georgia State from Eastern Arizona Junior College and was a dominant force for the Panthers defensive line during their first two seasons. He made an instant impact when he forced a fumble in the team’s first game, a 41-7 win over Shorter, and his 9 sacks ranks second all-time in the program’s record books. Christo then made program history when he became the first Georgia State player drafted professionally when the Oakland Raiders took him with the 189th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. To this day, that remains the highest selection in the NFL Draft for the school.
Honorable mention: Dontae Wilson (2017-present)
- 2019 All-Sun Belt honorable mention
- 8.5 sacks (T-3rd in school history)
Jake Muasau (2010-2011)
A hybrid linebacker from the early GSU teams, Jake Muasau was lauded by his teammates for his playmaking ability and intensity. Muasau tallied 16.5 tackles for loss (7th all-time) and snagged 3 interceptions in his short two-year stint at Georgia State. Muasau finished his career with 106 tackles, 7 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. In 2011, Muasau was named FCS All-Independent team by College Sports Madness and he was named by the team as Most Valuable Defensive Player for the inaugural Georgia State season.
Michael Shaw (2014-2017)
A four-year starter at outside linebacker, Shaw had at least 6 tackles for a loss in each of his first three seasons as a Panther. Shaw finished his Georgia State career as the all-time program leader with 26.5 tackles for loss – still the record today – and he’s tied at 5th with 7 career sacks. In 2017, Shaw was selected to the All-Sun Belt Third Team and was instrumental in helping lead the team to their first bowl win in program history, a 2017 Cure Bowl victory over Western Kentucky where the defense held the Hilltoppers to -2 rushing yards.
Honorable mention: Jarrell Robinson (2011-2014)
Joseph Peterson (2012-2015)
A force over the middle and a leader in the locker room his entire time in Atlanta, “Joe Pete” made his name as a Panther doing one thing above all else – tackling, tackling, tackling. Joe came in as a true freshman out of Dothan, Alabama and made an impact right away, leading the team with 65 tackles in 2012. Peterson blossomed with the arrival of Coach Miles and staff, growing under the guidance of defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and linebackers coach PJ Volker . He would tally team-leading tallies of 103, 97 and 116 tackles the next three seasons as he spear-headed the defensive unit’s improvement into a top G5 unit by 2015. Among the current record totals at the school, Joe’s 381 total tackles might be the most unbreakable for some time.
Alonzo McGee (2015-2016)
Along with an entry later on in this list, Alonzo McGee transferred in to Georgia State in the aftermath of the folding of the UAB program and, in conjunction with fellow linebackers Kaleb Ringer and the aforementioned Joseph Peterson, brought a level of smash-mouth the defense needed and helped bring about the first bowl team in program history. An All Sun-Belt honorable mention recipient both seasons at GSU, Alonzo set the single-season record for tackles for loss (with 12.5) in the 2015 bowl season.
Honorable mention: Trey Payne (2014-2017)
- 263 total tackles (T-2nd all-time)
It is fitting that Chandon Sullivan and Jerome Smith comprise the All-Decade cornerbacks because their partnership as starters from 2015-2017 lines up with the best years of defense in the program’s first decade – and it’s no coincidence. Neither were the flashiest of players but both fit perfectly in the scheme Jesse Minter wanted to run and both did everything asked of them on the outside.
Chandon Sullivan (2014-2017)
Chandon pinged around the defensive backfield his freshman year, mostly at safety – even getting an interception at Clemson – before settling in at cornerback his final three seasons. On Halloween Night 2015 against Arkansas State, he made history when he returned a Fredi Knighten interception 25 yards for a score – the first pick-six in school history. Chandon’s seven career interceptions is still the most in the program’s short history. Since graduating, Chandon’s brought his reliability in coverage and versatility to the NFL, playing an important role as a member of the Green Bay Packers in the 2019/20 season.
Jerome Smith (2015-2018)
Jerome redshirted in 2014 but immediately grabbed a starting spot in 2015 and teamed up with Chandon to great success. Tallying five career interceptions, including a pick-six in the 2016 season opener against Ball State and an interception in the 2017 bowl win over Western Kentucky, Jerome’s impact largely came from locking down his side of the field and not allowing many completions his way – giving up 0.54 yards per coverage snap in 2017.
Honorable mention: Brent McClendon (2010-2013)
Bobby Baker (2015-2016)
Like Alonzo McGee, Bobby Baker was a casualty of the UAB football team folding. He transferred to Georgia State with two years of eligibility in 2015 and immediately started for the Panthers. Not only did he start right away, Bobby made his presence known right away in the defensive backfield, collecting two interceptions and three fumble recoveries in the 2015 opener vs Charlotte. He finished the 2015 season third on the team in tackles with 76, making up one-half of a formidable safety duo with the next selection on our list. Bobby was named to the Sun Belt All-Newcomer Team for his strong 2015 season, but he would have an even better 2016 season. Baker was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference First Team after finishing with 82 tackles and helping the Panthers have the ninth-rated pass defense in all of FBS.
Tarris Batiste (2013-2015)
After spending a season away from home at Indiana State, Cass, Georgia native Tarris Batiste followed his head coach, Trent Miles, to Georgia State ahead of the 2013 season. A three-year starter on defense, Tarris spent his first year at GSU playing outside linebacker for the Panthers before moving to safety for the final two seasons of his career. Batiste’s best season came in 2015, where he led the team in interceptions with 4, had 100 tackles – good for second on the team – and was ninth in the Sun Belt in tackles per game with 7.7. Batiste was named to the All-Sun Belt First Team that year for his excellent contributions alongside fellow honoree Bobby Baker.
Wil Lutz (2012-2015)
Starting his career as a walk-on under coach Bill Curry, Wil Lutz quickly established himself as the starter at kicker for the near-entirety of his four years as a Panther. Wil holds the all-time Panther records for extra points tallied (120) and points scored (213). He made three field goal attempts of 50 yards or more over his career, including a school-record 53-yarder at Alabama in 2013. Wil has further blossomed since leaving Georgia State for the NFL, becoming one of the most consistent kickers in the league for the New Orleans Saints. He was named to the 2019 Pro Bowl after making 32-of-36 FGs, including a career-long 58-yarder to beat the Houston Texans.
Brandon Wright (2016-2019)
While he worked as both kicker and punter for most of his career, Brandon’s strongest work came on the punting side, where he led the program over its first decade with 43.5 yards per punt. Possessing a cannon of a leg while also adapting to the new rugby-style of punting, he hammered 57 punts over 50 yards or more – including a career-high/school-record 71-yarder at ULM in 2017. He earned First Team All-Sun Belt honors in 2018 and his stellar punting work landed him a free agent spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason.
Like our list? Have any players you would add? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter (@THERSdayNight).