Former Eagle Coach Headed to the College Football Hall of Fame
Former Georgia Southern head coach Paul Johnson has been selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. He served as head coach of the Eagles from 1997 to 2001. In his five seasons at Georgia Southern, the triple-option master led the Eagles to a 62-10 record, which included five FCS playoff appearances and the FCS championship twice, in 1999 and 2000. He won the Southern Conference (SoCon) with Georgia Southern every year and was named SoCon Coach of the Year two times (1997 and 1998) while heading the Eagles’ program. Johnson was inducted into the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.
Before becoming a head coach, Johnson was an assistant under Coach Erk Russell. As offensive coordinator at Georgia Southern, he mentored Tracy Ham and was head coach when Adrian Peterson played in Statesboro. He will join them in the College Football Hall of Fame. The Newland, North Carolina, native is also the first coach from Georgia Southern to enter the College Football Hall of Fame. After leaving Georgia Southern, John experienced success at both Navy and Georgia Tech. He won five Commander-in-Chief trophies in six seasons at Navy and took Georgia Tech to nine bowl appearances, including two Orange Bowls and was named ACC Coach of the Year three times. He retired from his 22-year as a head coach at the end of the 2018 season. Johnson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December at the 65th National Football Foundation Awards Dinner in Las Vegas.
Taylor Reed Named Georgia Southern Running Backs Coach
Taylor Reed, who has coaching experience at three Power 5 programs, has been named as the running backs coach for Georgia Southern by Head Coach Clay Helton. Reed joins the staff after spending two seasons with the Illinois football program. He was elevated to an offensive analyst for the Illini in 2022 after serving as an offensive graduate assistant in 2021 when he helped Illinois to a pair of road, ranked wins. He has also spent time at Auburn and Arkansas as an offensive graduate assistant and worked primarily with wide receivers and quarterbacks. He began his college career in 2011 at Memphis, starting nine of 11 games and throwing for 1,690 yards and 10 touchdowns. He graduated from Central Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Track & Field/Cross Country
Olympic Medalist Leads Track Team
David Neville, an Olympic gold medalist, is the new head coach of the Georgia Southern track and field and cross country programs. He previously served five seasons as an assistant coach for sprints, hurdles and relays at the University of Tennessee. In making the announcement Director of Athletics Jared Benko said, “I am very excited to have David, his wife Arial, his daughter, Acaia, and his son, David, join our Georgia Southern Family.”
A native of Merrillville, Indiana, Neville enjoyed a distinguished track career that was highlighted by a gold medal for the U.S. in the men’s 4×400 and a bronze in the men’s 400 meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also won gold in the 400 meters at the 2008 Indoor USA Championships and earned bronze in the 400 meters at the 2006 USA Championships and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Men’s Soccer Lands New Head Coach
Former Lander University men’s soccer head coach Lee Squires has been named to the same position at Georgia Southern University. At the Greenwood, South Carolina-based school, Squires compiled a 100-27-19 record over an eight-year span that included three undefeated regular seasons. Squires said he is honored to join the Eagle family. He also commented that he “looks forward to competing in one of the best conferences in D1 men’s soccer and work towards building a championship program on and off the field … one that the alumni, supporters and local community are excited to get behind and are proud of.”
Enters Georgia Sports
Hall of Fame
Former Eagles Coach Jack Stallings has joined the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. His posthumous induction into the Legends Class of 2023 occurred during induction ceremonies the weekend of Feb. 25, at the historic Macon City Auditorium in Macon, Georgia. Stallings was the baseball coach at Georgia Southern for 24 years before retiring in 1999. He guided the Eagles to three SoCon championships, five NCAA postseason appearances and one College World Series appearance in 1990. He also coached with the U.S. national baseball team in the ’70s and ’80s. He posted an 859-582-5 record during his years at Georgia Southern. Coach Stallings passed away on June 19, 2018.
Eagles Set Records in the Classroom
The over 400 student-athletes who make up the Georgia Southern athletics department earned a 3.08 GPA for the 2022 fall semester. This mark is the highest fall semester average on record. Women’s tennis posted the highest team GPA for the department with a 3.77 GPA and men’s golf had the highest team GPA on the men’s side with a 3.50.
“I am very proud of our student-athletes’ record- breaking performance in the classroom this fall,” said Jared Benko, director of athletics. “Part of our Strategic Plan is to finish the year with a 3.2 Department GPA and this fall’s effort puts us on a track to meet that goal. I want to recognize Reggie Simpkins and his Student- Athlete Services staff for their dedication toward positioning our student-athletes for success.”
Golfer Recognized as Player of the Year
Eagle Ben Carr captured the most recent Georgia State Golf Association (GSGA) Men’s Player of the Year honor. The Columbus, Georgia, native is the first collegiate player to win the honor since 2015. Carr had a memorable run over the summer at the U.S. Amateur Championship finishing runner-up earning a spot in the 2023 U.S. Open and an invitation to the 2023 Masters Tournament in Augusta. This is the second GSGA Player of the Year honor for Carr after taking home the 2019 GSGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year.
Swimming and Diving
Eagles Welcome New Women’s Swimming and Diving Head Coach
A standout student-athlete in the pool at Texas A&M University, Allyson Sweeney is spending her first year as the head coach of the Georgia Southern women’s swimming and diving program. She previously served as an assistant coach for the University of North Carolina team. At North Carolina, she assisted in the training and development of student-athletes and guided her student-athletes to qualify for the NCAA Championships and earn All-America status. She has also served in positions at Auburn, Florida Southern, Swim Atlanta and Lakeland Area Swimming. “The opportunity to return to home roots in the state of Georgia and build upon the foundations set forth by the administration has me eager to dive in,” Sweeney said when her hiring was announced.