ATLANTA — Spring is here, on the thermometer and on the football field, where the Georgia State Panthers opened spring practice Monday afternoon at the GSU Football Complex.
The Panthers begin their second spring under head coach Trent Miles with five junior college transfers on the field who are expected to be immediate contributors, including offensive linemen Taylor Evans, Michael Ivory and Steve Wolgamott as well as quarterback Nick Arbuckle and cornerback Marcus Caffey.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces, and we’re anxious to see what they can do,” Miles said. “They’ve been in the weight room and the winter conditioning program, but this our first chance to see them play football.”
With a program in its infant stages graduating 27 seniors, Miles knows there are numerous areas that need work this spring, not the least of which is replacing the most productive player in Georgia State’s brief history in wide receiver Albert Wilson.
“Obviously the quarterback position is huge, and we’ve got a lot of holes to fill on the offensive line,” Miles said.
“At wide receiver we have to figure out who can step in and how many guys are going to try to replace Albert Wilson. It will probably take about half the team to do that.
“On defense, we lost our whole secondary, and we’ve got to establish some consistency at linebacker. We’ve got a lot of question marks. We’re still building the house right now.”
Despite the challenges, Miles remains as upbeat as ever about the building process that he and his staff have undertaken.
“We know what we’re building, the type of young men that we are bringing into our program, and the family atmosphere that we have here,” he said. “We were able to sign a really strong recruiting class, and our kids believe in what we’re doing.
“We know we’ve got a lot of improvements to make,” Miles continued. “These kids know it, too, and they’re working at it. Our expectation level is high. We want to compete right now.”
Miles noted that his program “got our first victory last Saturday, when we were presented with the Sun Belt Conference (grade point average) award for football. We had the best GPA in the conference for football. So that’s victory No. 1. And it matters. Academics matter here.
“Now we need to continue that winning in the weight room and on the practice field, and eventually winning games will come.”
Monday’s first practice included a special visitor as head basketball coach Ron Hunter stopped by to address the team and thank them for supporting his team and showing up in full force at last Saturday’s Senior Day victory over Western Kentucky.
Spring practice continues this week with workouts scheduled for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday before a week-long hiatus next week for Georgia State’s spring break.