A month ago Georgia State may have signed one of their most important classes in program history. It is important because the ability to make an impression on potential recruits after a record setting year will tell us where the program is today and what may be ahead in the future.
To get a sense of just what the Panthers were able to land in this most recent class, we turn to the authority on Georgia State recruiting… Ben Moore of PantherTalk part of the 247Sports network.
What is your overall impression of the Freshmen signed in this class?
I was impressed with the speed and size in the 2016 class. GSU is one of the fastest teams in the league at the skill positions and grabbed some legit track star speed guys with Matlin Marshall, Jawan Nobles and Tre Barnett on offense. The offensive line and defensive lines were definitely areas that the Panthers addressed signing four offensive lineman and three defensive lineman although one has already been announced that will take a greyshirt in DT Tavis Malakius. With so many returning starters back, depth in the second and third units was key and I think the coaches filled needs in this class.
In your opinion, does this Freshmen class give an indication of where the future of this program is headed, meaning that better talent is starting to take notice and want to be a part of the program?
You can definitely see that. The staff had to hold off late runs on several of their guys from Power Five programs like Purdue, Syracuse and Rutgers. That’s a big statement to me. Georgia is one of the most overrecruited states in the country and there are very few hidden gems in the high school ranks anymore especially along the lines. GSU signing multiple players from Gwinnett County is always a plus because that’s been called the SEC of Georgia High School Football. Great coaching and elite level talent tends to bring in better players across the board. The key for the Panthers is to continue to sell that kids can get a great education from a top notch research university and their families can come see them. If they’re signing with a program hundreds to thousands of miles away, it can be very cost prohibitive for people to come and watch them play. Some kids like to be away from home and why finding the right kids who want to stay and build a program in Atlanta is critical.
What offensive and defensive player do you feel can most make an impact right away and why?
Offensively, I take a look at a guy at receiver named Jonathan Ifedi. He enrolled early out of Vance HS outside Charlotte, NC. He’s 5’11, 185lbs and has been on campus since January. He absolutely has a shot to be in the rotation as a Freshman.
Defensively, I like DE/OLB Javonte Lain a lot. He’s a guy who had verbally committed to Memphis and was set to sign with the Tigers before an NCAA Clearinghouse issue arose. Lain has the size/speed combination to come off the edge and contribute immediately and will battle for reps at the rush outside linebacker position in DC Jesse Minter’s attacking 3-4 scheme.
Who do you feel of all the players will make the greatest impact or has the greatest upside before their eligibility runs out?
It’s hard not to look a WR Robert Davis. He’s been about as consistent a player for his entire career and should break current Kansas City Chiefs starting WR Albert Wilson’s records for receptions and receiving yards. Most people around GSU could legitimately state that Albert was one of the best GSU athletes ever in any sport and for Rob to break his receiving records is extremely impressive.
In your opinion, in what way(s) did this signing class make the team better?
Size, speed and it again continues a run of Metro Atlanta kids staying home. 9 out of the 17 NSD signees are from Metro Atlanta and 13/17 are from the state of Georgia. The inroads that this staff continues to make are very impressive.
Are there any areas of concern that this class didn’t or doesn’t provide an answer for?
Tight end was a position that I was mildly surprised they didn’t address. With the addition of UGA transfer Hunter Atkinson, that concern was alleviated a bit. It definitely will have to be addressed in the 2017 class with starter Keith Rucker graduating.
Connor Manning is a QB transferring from Utah. He is expected to contend for the starting job to replace Nick Arbuckle. What can Panther fans expect from him and how does his skill set fit what Coach Miles wants to do on the offensive side of the ball.
He has a really strong arm to throw the ball down the field, he can make all of the throws and can move in and out of the pocket. Conner is an excellent student (graduated from Utah in only 2 and a half years) so aptitude and comprehension will not be an issue. QB coach Luke Huard was patient and when Manning became available he jumped all over him. There was really no other QB that Coach Huard wanted. That tells me a lot considering how much Nick Arbuckle improved working with Huard. Conner is a bit more athletic than Nick which will allow him to throw on the run and give the offensive staff an opportunity to put different packages in that they couldn’t necessarily do with Arbuckle.