The Year of Lunsford: Georgia Southern Football heads into the offseason.

Courtesy of Georgia Southern Athletics.

The folks in the lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina were treated to a rare snowstorm on Tuesday,thanks to something called a Bombogenesis(?).

The Bombogenesis/Bomb Cyclone is pummeling the Eastern Seaboard with snow this week. Places as far south as the Florida panhandle have seen accumulations of fresh powder. It wasn’t long until the pictures started flooding various social media platforms.

I was there at Georgia Southern, chaperoning a high school Model UN conference in February of 2010 during the last snow storm. The entire town filed out into the streets to make snow angels, snowmen, and have snowball fights.

I remember getting incredibly drunk that night and playing in the snow, woke up with the worst hangover of my life. The “Bomb Cyclone of 2018” is only the third recorded accumulation of snow this decade in Statesboro.

2010 was also Jeff Monken’s first year at the helm as Georgia Southern Head Coach. That year he took a 7-4 at-large Eagles team, on a miracle run all the way to the FCS semifinals, where they lost to Delaware.

The Cinderella run started with a victory over #1 App State and included clutch road victories over William & Mary and Wofford. Maybe snowstorms in Bulloch County, Georgia are a good omen for success on the football field? We will find out one way, or another.

Staff Changes

Now that the dust has settled from a crazy December that included bowl season, the coaching carousel, and the first  early signing period ever, we have a chance to look ahead to 2018.

Georgia Southern started this week with an addition to their defensive coaching staff by adding Charlie Harbison. He has an impressive resume and is by all accounts a quality addition to the staff:

Coaching career
1992–1993 Gardner–Webb (WR)
1994 UTEP (DB)
1995–1997 Clemson (DB)
1998–2000 Alabama (WR)
2001–2002 LSU (DB)
2003–2006 Alabama (WR)
2007–2008 Mississippi State (DC)
2009–2012 Clemson (co-DC/DB)
2013–2014 Auburn (co-DC/S)
2015–2017 Louisiana–Lafayette (co-DC/OLB)

Once again I continue to be impressed with Chad Lunsford’s ability to assemble a staff. The guys he has pulled in are experienced and professional. Harbison’s track record includes stops all over the South at big-time programs.

Harbison was a tremendous recruiting track record. Lunsford plucked yet another assistant from a conference rival in ULL. His connections in the college coaching fraternity are deep.

One loss to the coaching staff is Bob Bodine; the offensive line coach took an unnamed position at Lenoir Rhyne. Bob DeBesse will most likely bring in his guy to coach the hogs up front.

Saga Tuitele, OL Coach and Run Game Coordinator at New Mexico is a name to watch out for there. He’s been a name that’s been tossed around in Eagle fan circles the past couple years.

The staff currently looks like this:

Head Coach – Chad Lunsford
Offensive coordinator/WR Coach- Bob DeBesse
Defensive coordinator – Scot Sloan
QB Coach – Juston Wood
OL Coach-
Recruiting coordinator/RB Coach- Chris Foster
DL Coach- Vic Cabral
LB Coach- Pat Bastien
S Coach- Olten Downs
DB Coach – Jeremy Rowell
Special Teams/HB Coach- Andrew Dodge
TBD – Charlie Harbison

There’s no word yet on what capacity Harbison will serve but he’s worked primarily with the secondary in the past. You can never have enough smart people on your coaching staff.

Adding another veteran recruiter one way or another can’t hurt. Signing day #2 is a month away. Teams that underwent coaching changes were hit especially hard by the early signing period.

That said Lunsford and the gang held their own.

Signing Day

There’s already been a documented discrepancy between schools that went through coaching changes and those who did not, and the effect it had on the amount of recruits signed. FBS schools that went through changes averaged about 8 signees, while ones with stable coaching situations averaged well into the double-digits.

Georgia Southern only graduated 8 seniors off of last year’s squad. They signed 8 dudes between December 20-22. Do the math. It’s not flashy. It’s not what Eagles fans want to hear but considering key guys like Scot Sloan and Bob DeBesse weren’t announced as hires until the days leading up to the early window, they did their job. Let’s look at the haul.

Najee Thompson
Pos: S
Ht: 6-0
Wt: 185
247 Rating: 76 **
High School: Boiling Springs

Deontae Grant
Pos: S
Ht: 6-1
Wt: 200
247 Rating: 75 **
High School: South Sumter

Zyon McGee
Pos: S
Ht: 6-2
Wt: 205
247 Rating: 76 **
High School: Bainbridge

Marcus Rogers
Pos: WR
Ht: 6-3
Wt: 200
247 Rating: 77 **
High School: Campbell

Jontavious Ferguson
Pos: ILB
Ht: 6-1
Wt: 210
247 Rating: 80 ***
High School: Manchester

Jawaski Webb
Pos: OL
Ht: 6-2
Wt: 280
247 Rating: N/A
High School: Senatobia
Last School: Holmes (MS) C.C.

Justin Tomlin
Pos: QB
Ht: 6-0
Wt: 175
247 Rating: 79 **
High School: Southwest Dekalb

Javon Reid
Pos: S
Ht: 6-0
Wt: 170
247 Rating: 70 **
High School: Lincoln County

It’s a secondary-heavy haul. Georgia Southern landed an under-the-radar QB product out of Southwest DeKalb High School in Justin Tomlin. He’s silky smooth and has a strong arm. Between Shai Werts, Jaalon Frazier, and Justin Tomlin, the Eagles are set at QB for a while now. Jawaski Webb was the sole JuCo transfer of the class and adds much-needed depth to the interior of the offensive line right away.

Johntavious Ferguson is the other headliner of the early class. The former UCF commit was a late signee. He has the prototypical size and speed to be a sideline to sideline ILB in the new 3-4 scheme. Najee Thompson, Zyon McGee, Deontae Grant, and Javon Reid add more talent to an already talented secondary, More competition in the secondary for playing time has to yield good results down the road.

There are an additional eight hard commits listed on 247, and there’s a month left. This staff was built for this sort of thing. Trust the process.

What will the team look like?

Well, I slapped together a potential two-deep while I was bored. Everything on offense is pretty much the same, just a year older. The defense is the more intriguing side. I feel that this roster has enough personnel to make the switch somewhat easily. I could be proven wrong, but the idea of Raymond Johnson and Deshon Cooper screaming off the edge, chasing QBs is a good idea.

Offense
QB: Werts, Brown
RB: Fields, Walker, Montgomery
RB: Garrett, LaRoche, L. Wright
LT: Culbreth, Edwards
LG: Northrup, Cooper
C: Rainey, Webb
RG: Wilson, Kelly
RT: Williams, Edwards
H: Richardson, Michaud, LaBaron Anthony (speculation)
WR: Fortune, Glenn, Rogers
WR: Henry, Michaud, Anderson
Slot/Flanker: JW Kennedy, Carter Jr.

Defense
DE: Hunt, Copeland, Miller
NT: Phillips, Griffin, Bush,
DE: Vliem, Lofton, J. Johnson
OLB: R. Johnson, Wade
ILB: Reese, Harris,
ILB: Bradley, Byrd
OLB: Cooper, Kouassi
NB: Murray, Josue, Ecton
CB: Brinson, Liptrot
FS: Moon, Murray, Thompson
SS: Bowdry, Freeman, Washington
CB: Vildor, Baker, Garrett

I like Hunt-Phillips-Vliem up front, I’m partial to that setup. They all have the experience to run it. Brian Miller was the talk of fall camp last season before donning the redshirt. Demetrice Lofton and Josh Johnson are talented as well. Don’t sleep on Zach Copeland either, he’s experienced and a weight room hero. He could potentially fill in at all three DL spots at various points next year.

The key to the whole set up is having physical monsters like Raymond Johnson Jr. and Deshon Cooper providing pressure off the edge. It remains to be seen what Lunsford, Sloan, and the rest of the brain trust inside the Ted will do as far as position changes. This is blind conjecture. But you can bet Tomarico Reese and Todd Bradley are going to be the guys at ILB.

There were a few dudes Tyson Summers redshirted last year that will hit the field in 2018. The secondary is going to be the strength of the team. Vildor and Brinson are two potential lockdown corners. With coaching from Sloan and Harbison, both secondary guys should do wonders. Can’t wait for Signing Day #2 and eventually Spring Practice.

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About Nick Burgess 75 Articles
M.A. in Teaching, University of West Georgia, B.A. in Political Science, Georgia Southern University, Triple Option fundamentalist

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