ATLANTA — Building on the program’s first bowl appearance, the Georgia State football team concludes spring practice with Saturday’s Blue-White Spring Game, scheduled for 1 p.m. at the GSU Soccer Complex at Panthersville. The Spring Game is the centerpiece of a day of family fun that includes a free Youth Football Day conducted by the team at 11:30 a.m. and autographs on the field following the game.
All events are free, including the Youth Football Day, which is open to all boys and girls in grades K-8.
Saturday’s Spring Game is the culmination of 15 sessions of practice with competition in every area, most notably at quarterback, where sophomore Emiere Scaife, redshirt freshman Aaron Winchester and graduate transfer Conner Manning are competing to replace Nick Arbuckle.
“The majority of our players are back – nine starters on defense and seven on offense,” head coach Trent Miles said. “We’ve got a few holes to fill. You’re never going to replace a Nick Arbuckle or a Joe Peterson, but if we get the guys who are stepping in to play to the best of their ability, we’ll be just fine. I think our team will compete for a Sun Belt championship.”
Of the three quarterbacks who will be on display Saturday, Miles said, “They all have things to work on, but all three have done something to show you they can do it. It’s an intense battle right now. All three of them have the ability to lead the team and be successful.”
All the quarterbacks will benefit from a talented receiving corps, led by Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Penny Hart and two-time all-conference receiver Robert Davis as well as All-Sun Belt tight end Keith Rucker.
“We’ve got a good receiving corps with a lot of talent, so they’ve been exciting to watch,” Miles said. “They’re do a great job getting better at their fundamentals and technique.”
At running back, the Panthers should have more depth and talent, led by Glenn Smith, Kyler Neal and Taz Bateman.
“I think we are running the ball better than at any time since we’ve been here,” Miles said. “And the offensive line is improving too. We’ve got some guys who are downhill runners like Kyler Neal and Demarcus Kirk, we’ve got Taz who can make you miss and Glenn Smith, whose athleticism can cause a defense nightmares. He has the speed to get around the corner and the toughness to run inside.”
Defensively, the Panthers return nine starters, led by linebacker Alonzo McGee, safety Bobby Baker, cornerback Chandon Sullivan and defensive end Shawanye Lawrence. The unit. which was the most improved defense in the nation last fall, has shown its big-play ability during the spring. Key losses for the defense are all-time leading tackler Joseph Peterson and all-conference safety Tarris Batiste.
“Somebody has to step up to fill their shoes from a leadership standpoint and a production standpoint, and we feel we have the talent to do that,” Miles said.