ATLANTA--With Georgia State's preseason camp winding to a close, head coach Bill Curry is confident that his Panthers "are going to be a well-conditioned football team going into the season."
Curry said he has seen the positive effect new strength and conditioning coach Ben Pollard has had on the program since his arrival in June.
"There is a clear line of demarcation between the guys who worked all summer and really got after it in our strength and conditioning program, and those who did not. And the team has seen it, too," said Curry after practice Friday, two weeks before his Panthers open the season against Clark Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.
"The ones who showed up and were not in good shape have paid a tough price. Most of them are in shape now, but they now see that's the hard way. And some of them are still on the third team when they might be on the first or second string had they worked harder over the summer.
"But that's the way you teach lessons to a new program," he added.
Sophomore offensive tackle Ramell Davis (St. Matthews, S.C.) is an example of a Panther who has improved greatly since last season. The 6-7, 285-pounder was honored as the team's Most Improved Offensive Player following spring practice, and his improved play has continued this preseason. He is battling returning starter Grant King for playing time at right tackle.
"Ramell has made particular strides, in all areas," said Curry. "He's competing now for some playing time. He may not be a starter, but he'll get to play."
Another offensive lineman who worked particularly hard in the offseason is sophomore Michael Davis as he rehabilitated from a knee injury that kept him out of the 2010 season.
"He's not all the way back yet, and that frustrates him. But he will get there, and I'm proud of him," said Curry.
NOTING THE PANTHERS:
Georgia State will complete preseason camp with a scrimmage Saturday morning at the GSU Practice Complex. The team will take off Sunday and Monday, when fall semester classes begin, and then return to practice Tuesday morning.
Georgia State's 2011 season opener is just two weeks away as the Panthers host Clark Atlanta on Friday, Sept. 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. Season and individual game tickets are on sale now (866-GA-STATE or GeorgiaStateSports.com.)
The coaching staff has made a few position moves. True freshman Lynquez Blair began preseason camp at cornerback but has moved to wide receiver. He played quarterback at Swainsboro (Ga.) High. Sophomore lineman Jon Marshall Sauls moved from offense to defense in the spring but has returned to the offensive line.
College Sporting News has tabulated a consolidated listing of the preseason major polls and rankings of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision for the upcoming 2011 season, including College Sporting News, Lindy's, The Sporting News, Athlon, Phil Steele, and the Sports Network. Based on these consolidated rankings, Georgia State will face three of the nation's top 30 FCS teams this fall in Jacksonville State (10), South Carolina State (24) and Murray State (27).