When spring camp was just getting started all the way back in March, it drew a lot of attention from former Georgia Southern players, who came by Beautiful Eagle Creek to watch the triple-option offense being installed.
Offensive coordinator Brent Davis, who returned along with head coach Jeff Monken for a second tour of duty at GSU, used them to make a point to the 2010 Eagles.
"I asked them today because there were some old players that were back watching practice," he said on March 29, "I said, ‘You know why those guys come back to watch practice? Because it means something to them.’ I said, ‘You guys haven’t been here when Georgia Southern was Georgia Southern yet. It’s the greatest place in the world.’"
Now, nearly nine months later, the Eagles (9-4) are one of eight teams left playing for the Football Championship Subdivision title.
It looks like they got the message.
"I would say they’re figuring it out," Davis said after Wednesday’s practice. "They’ve heard so much about it. First off, they were all probably recruited on the promise that they were going to win a national championship, the kids before we got here were recruited, and when we got here we sold the same thing.
"They were sold on a dream — you come to Georgia Southern and you win championships. But I don’t know if they ever realized the amount of work, the blood, sweat and tears that goes in to trying to do that until maybe this season. What I mean by that is, it’s one thing to hear about it. It’s another thing when you feel like you actually have the opportunity to compete for a championship and to maybe reach one of those goals, when you realize what got you to that point.
"Right now, I think they’ve got more confidence than they’ve ever had. I think they’re starting to understand what Georgia Southern’s all about. We have a long way to go before we can win a championship and before we can beat Wofford, but I do get a sense that they feel like they’re on the right path."
A busy week
It isn’t just quarterfinals week on the football field. It’s also finals week in the classroom.
"We’re trying to be mature as a football team, taking care of business in the classroom like we have all year," said GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw, "and we’re trying to get ready for the game. I’ve actually had more time for game film than I have been, because you don’t have a regular class schedule all day. It balances out."
Fortunately, football and academics haven’t interfered with one another.
"We had one guy miss practice because of a three o’clock final," Monken said. "But we were able to keep on track and practice at the same time we normally do, which I think is good just from a routine standpoint."
Russell honored by SoCon
Sophomore defensive tackle Brent Russell received Southern Conference athlete of the month on defense for November. He was selected from a pool of all SoCon defensive players.
Russell recorded 22 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in November, while helping the Eagles to a 4-0 record.
On the air
Georgia Southern’s quarterfinals matchup against Wofford (10-2) in Spartanburg, S.C. Saturday at 2 p.m. will be broadcast on FOX 28 out of Savannah.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.