Spring Into Action

 

SPRING15spring-into-actionWillie Fritz was named the Georgia Southern Head Football Coach on January 10, 2014, and quickly got to work completing the 2014 signing class and preparing the Eagles for their first season in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Sun Belt Conference.

Georgia Southern got off to a great start nearly defeating FBS veterans North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, and then defeated Savannah State for their first victory as an FBS school and South Alabama for their first conference victory.

Even though they were picked to finish eighth in the Sun Belt, the Eagles went on to win the conference championship after defeating all eight conference foes, and finished the season with a 9-3 record overall. After Georgia Southern was denied an opportunity to play in a bowl game due to NCAA rules, Fritz and his staff turned their attention to the 2015 season.

Signing Day

Preparation for the Eagles’ second season in the FBS couldn’t begin without completing the roster. Coach Fritz and his staff signed 22 new student-athletes to complement the crop of returning Eagles from a year ago.

Georgia Southern’s 2015 recruiting class was ranked in the top 75 nationally by ESPN’s Recruiting Nation. This was the second straight year the Eagles’ recruiting class was ranked nationally.

Of the 22 players who joined the program, 20 came from the high school ranks, while two came in with collegiate football experience. These new recruits include 14 players from the state of Georgia, six from Florida, one from South Carolina and one from Nevada.

The Eagles added five offensive linemen, four safeties, three wide receivers, three cornerbacks, two tight ends, two running backs, two defensive ends and a quarterback to the roster.

“I appreciate my coaches. They have done a sensational job recruiting these guys,” Fritz said. “I think our television exposure really helped our brand and our facilities helped us.”

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Blue-White Spring Game

The Georgia Southern defense picked off two passes and recorded three sacks in the 30-play live portion of the Blue vs. White Spring Football Game at Allen E. Paulson Stadium.

Honorary coaches Leonard Bevill and Georgia Southern University President Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D., took turns calling plays for the offense. Each coach had the opportunity to alternate calling five consecutive plays, and points were awarded for scores and plays more than four yards, while points were subtracted for negative plays and lost yardage.

President Keel had a nice comeback for a 6 to minus-1 win as Bevill called six straight plays that wound up getting negative yardage after opening a 4-1 early lead. Neither honorary coach called a play that went for a touchdown.

Off the field, the Smokin’ Eagles won the second annual Tailgate Cook-Off, which took place prior to the spring game. Fans taste-tested the dishes cooked up by the competitors and voted for the winners.

Football Schedule Release

The Eagles will face two Power Five conference teams, four teams that played in bowl games last year and will host six home games in the 2015 football season.

Georgia Southern will open the season at Big 12 contender West Virginia and will also travel to Athens, Georgia, to face Southeastern Conference powerhouse, the Georgia Bulldogs on Nov. 21.

The Eagles will host Mid-American Conference contender Western Michigan and Sun Belt Conference rival South Alabama.

In nationally televised games on ESPNU, Georgia Southern will first travel to Boone, North Carolina, to face conference rival Appalachian State on Oct. 22. The Eagles will then host Sun Belt contender Texas State, who finished the season bowl eligible with a 7-5 record, on Oct. 29.

The Eagles will close out the 2015 regular season at home against in-state rival Georgia State on Dec. 5. – Barrett Gilham

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