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Eagles have big shoes to fill at CB

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POSTED: April 11, 2011 10:58 a.m.

Carson Hill was arguably the most — if not only — consistent thing about the Georgia Southern Eagles between 2006 and 2010.

The former cornerback is also probably the biggest name not returning to the Eagles in 2011.

Opposite Hill last season was Laron Scott, who put his name into GSU record books as a junior, setting or tying school records in interceptions (6), kick returns (44) and kick return yards (1,161).

He isn’t on the practice field either, sitting out spring camp with an injury.

Playing with the ones this spring are cornerbacks Lavelle Westbrooks and Hudson Presume, who each have very different stories so far in their GSU careers.

Presume, a rising senior, has been battling injuries his whole career. His 2009 season came to an end on the road at Appalachian State, and a preseason injury in 2010 kept him on the sidelines as a junior.

"He was hurt for so much of last year, and we just didn’t know if he’d get healthy enough to ever play again," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "To his credit, he’s really worked. He looks a lot better, and he’s improving. You’re rusty when you don’t play, and he’s knocking some of the rust off."

That’s done and over with," Presume added about the injuries. "Now I’m back with my teammates. It’s a great feeling, to tell you the truth. I’m working hard and the guys are working hard."

Hill spent much of the 2010 season battling injuries as well, so Westbrooks, then a true freshman, ended up starting eight games and picking up 32 tackles and a pair of interceptions in the process.

"He’s a ton ahead. A ton ahead," said Monken about the progress made by Westbrooks last season. "He prepared for 15 games. That’s different than 11. That’s almost another quarter of a season that he’s ahead. It was good, and that goes for the whole team — having a chance to practice more."

Cornerbacks coach Orlando Mitjans has seen the progression of the rising sophomore on and off the field.

"I used to call him my sleepy head, but now he’s alert," said Mitjans. "He’s awake. Every day he comes out here and punches the clock. He’s working hard, and that’s all you can ask."

With Hill and Scott off the field, Westbrooks has embraced more of a leadership role during spring camp.

"There’s always going to be two corners on the field, and there’s always going to be two starters. I don’t know if I’m going to be a starter or not, but I understand that there’s going to be people that don’t know the system, like the walkons that came on, and I just want to help out," said Westbrooks. "It’s part of maturing and becoming a team."

Currently practicing with the second string are cornerbacks Deonte Watkins and a new walkon that caught the eye of Mitjans, Connell Reddick.

The Eagles will resume camp with the second spring scrimmage Saturday at Paulson Stadium.

Less fullback depth

Aaron Fisher, a freshman B-back who redshirted during the 2010 season, has elected to leave the team for personal reasons.

With only two fullbacks currently taking contact during spring camp – rising senior Brent Thomas and walkon Terrell Jackson — Monken expects to look to the fall’s incoming freshman class to provide depth at the position.

"Right now we have [rising sophomore] Robert [Brown], and hopefully we’ll keep him healthy and bring those young guys along," said Monken. "We signed four of them, so I feel like maybe one or two of those guys will be able to learn, and at least mentally absorb enough to be able to play, and be physical enough to handle it."

 

 

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