ATLANTA – When the 2014 season kicks off on Aug. 27, Georgia State wide receivers Donovan Harden and Nathaniel Minor will both be taking the field for the first time in over a year, and neither one could be more excited.
Harden, a redshirt junior from Rialto, Calif., transferred to GSU from Illinois State before the 2013 season and due to transfer rules was required to sit out the entire season. Things got worse for Harden when he suffered a knee injury in practice last fall. A year later, he is back at 100 percent and ready to compete.
“The hard part was definitely sitting out, but once I was cleared to come back it was not hard at all,” Harden said. “I love football and it was second nature to go back out there and get my feet back under me. I started to feel like myself after the third or fourth practice this fall and now I can’t want to let loose on Aug. 27.”
Minor, a redshirt junior from Lilburn, Ga., suffered a similar injury in the spring of 2013 and missed the entire 2013 season as a result. Like Harden, it was difficult for him to sit on the sidelines and watch, but now he is ready to take the field to help the Panthers this fall.
“It really hurt,” Minor said. “My last football game was in late November of 2012. I sat out all of last season and I felt like I could have contributed to the team. I came back strong in the spring and then had a shoulder injury that hung me up a little bit. However, now I am completely healthy and ready to go out and help this team any way I can.”
Both will be on the field Saturday when GSU scrimmages for the first time this fall (closed to the public).
“Coach Miles is always saying you can’t turn on game time,” Minor said. “You have to practice like you want to play. We are just going to go out there, show everything we can do and who what the coaches have been teaching us. We are going to go out there and have a great time.”
Minor played in all 22 games in 2011-12, with 12 receptions for 92 yards.
“I have now words to describe how excited I am,” Harden said. “It has been over a year since I have had the feeling of running out of the tunnel, the crowd and the excitement. I can’t wait because we have a good football group and we are ready to show everyone what we are capable of.”
Harden could be a key addition to the receiving corps after a productive career at Illinois, includiing 46 receptions for 617 yards and six touchdowns in 2012.
NOTING THE PANTHERS …
The wide receivers are in good hands
under the tutelage of first-year coach Tim Lappano, who has over 30 years of experience at both the college and professional level.
“It has been good with the guidance of coach Lappano, he is a great coach,” Harden said. “We have a lot of weapons as far as size, speed and hands so I feel that we are going to do very well on the field. It is good to have everyone back and hopefully everyone is healthy by the first game. We can’t wait.”
“I am still out here learning too,” Minor said. “Coach Lappano is a great coach. The younger guys look to me, and they all call me the veteran of the receiving corps. I am still learning things from coach Lappano, and I am passing it down to the other guys. I am trying to show everybody the ropes and trying to be the leader or the group so that everyone can follow and do the right things. As far as playmakers, we have so many different abilities in every receiver that we have. We have speed, hands, route running and I think that this is a great receiving corps.”
· The Panthers have one set of brothers on the team, Cristian and Jayro Perez, who both play on the defensive line. Cristian is a redshirt senior who came to GSU after spending two years at the University of the Cumberlands, and Jayro is a redshirt freshman from Southeast Whitfield High School.
“It is great,” Cristian said about having the opportunity to play college football alongside his brother. “You don’t get too many opportunities like this. Since I am older, I can teach him what I did wrong since I got here to try and make him a better player.”
“Coming from a smaller school, there is more competition here,” Cristian said. “That was the reason I transferred because I wanted to push myself as much as possible and compete at a higher level to see if I could do it.”
“It was a great experience because he wanted to come to Georgia State and he wanted me to come up here too,” Jayro said. “I am trying to follow in his footsteps because I know that he is always going to lead me to the right path.”
“I am getting more comfortable with the scheme,” Jayro said. “Having my older brother here is great because I can ask him questions about the system that the older players have already been through. He is showing me the ropes and helping me along.”
· Senior running back Gerald Howse, who had been having a solid camp, will miss approximately six weeks with a broken bone in his hand.