ATLANTA -- Just four days after winning the first bowl game in school history, Georgia State signed 17 future Panthers to National Letters of Intent Wednesday on the first day of the new football early signing period.
Head coach Shawn Elliott and his staff capped a great week that began with Saturday's 27-17 victory over Western Kentucky in the AutoNation Cure Bowl by signing an outstanding class that features seven players who earned a three-star rating from 247Sports. The early class addresses needs at every position with four defensive linemen, three offensive linemen, three defensive backs, two linebackers, two receivers, one quarterback, one running back and one tight end.
"What a great class. I think our coaches did a great job in solidifying the spots that we needed in this early signing period," Elliott said. We try to find the best individuals to come join our program, the best fits for Georgia State University who have the opportunity to come here and be successful, and I think we've done that."
Elliott said that the early signing period has worked out well for the Georgia State program.
"It really didn't change the calendar, because right now you've got to recruit year-round. You've got to really push the envelope and recruit every single day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," he said.
"What it did do was make us push up our visits as we were preparing for a bowl game. That made it made it a little bit hectic, but it turned out to be great. We had great visits. All in all, I'm a big fan of this early signing period."
Elliott and his staff reached all over the Southeast, signing players from Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi and Louisiana in addition to Georgia.
The class includes two junior college players who will enroll in January in NJCAA All-America quarterback Dan Ellington from Itawamba (Miss.) C.C., and 6-foot-3 receiver Diondre Champaigne from Jones County (Miss.) J.C.
"Any time you sign a junior college player, like a Dan Ellington, you expect him to come in with the maturity to compete at a high level right away," Elliott said. "That's certainly the case with our junior college signees - they are physically and mentally ready to compete."
With the graduation of starting quarterback Conner Manning, Ellington will have the opportunity to compete for a starting berth. He passed ranked second in the NJCAA with 356.8 passing yards per game and fifth with 27 touchdown passes.
Elliott's emphasis on the line of scrimmage is obvious as the class includes seven linemen with three on the offensive side and four defensive linemen.
"I'm a former defensive defensive lineman and I coached the offensive line, so we're going to solidy our fronts on both sides the football, first and foremost, and then branch out from there," Elliott said. "I think good football teams have those lines that can really handle it up front. Until we get where we need to be, we're going to continue to recruit those areas hard and sign players to help us."
One of the standouts from Metro Atlanta is three-star linebacker Blake Carroll from Mountain View High School in Gwinnett County. Carroll collected 65 tackles with 14 tackles for los, 10.5 sacks, three interceptions--all of which he returned for touchdowns--two caused fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He was also his team's leading rusher with 597 yards and seven touchdowns.
In addition to Ellington and Carroll, other three-star prospects bu 247Sports in the class are offensive lineman Depelado Alexandre (Deerfield Beach, Fla.), running back Dawson Hill (Plantation, Fla.), wide receiver Cornelius McCoy (Deerfield Beach, Fla.), defensive tackle Akeem Smith (Virginia Beach, Va.) and cornerback Quavian White (Greer, S.C.).
The Panthers, who won a school-record seven games in Elliott's first season, can add additional signees through Friday of this week or on the traditional Signing Day, which is Feb. 7.
2017-18 GEORGIA STATE FOOTBALL SIGNEES
|Name||Pos||Hgt, Wgt||Hometown||High School|
|Blake Carroll||ILB||6-2, 219||Lawrenceville, Ga.||Mountain View|
|Brandon Joseph||OL||6-2, 280||Lawrenceville, Ga.||Central Gwinnett|
|Diondre Champaigne||WR||6-3, 195||North Charleston, S.C.||Fort Dorchester/Jones County|
|Tre Moore||DE||6-2, 230||Johnston, S.C.||Strom Thurmond|
|Marlon Young||DE||6-3, 245||Opelousas, La.||Opelousas|
|T.J. Smith||DE||6-3, 242||Laurinburg, N.C.||Scotland|
|Jacorey Crawford||S||6-1, 205||Thomson, Ga.||Thomson|
|Tyler Gore||CB||5-10, 170||North Myrtle Beach, S.C.||North Myrtle Beach|
|Despelado Alexandre||OL||6-5, 265||Deerfield Beach, Fla.||Deerfield Beach|
|Dan Ellington||QB||6-2, 192||Olive Branch, Miss.||Center Hill/Itawamba|
|Herman McCray||TE||6-4, 230||West Palm Beach, Fla.||Oxbridge Academy|
|Dawson Hill||RB||5'11, 190||Plantation, Fla.||South Plantation|
|D'Angelo Knight||SS-OLB||6-2, 215||North Charleston, S.C.||Fort Dorchester|
|Akeem Smith||DT||6-0, 292||Virginia Beach, Va.||Bishop Sullivan Catholic|
|Johnathan Bass||OL||6-4, 270||Marietta, Ga.||Kell|
|Cornelius McCoy||WR||5-10, 170||Deerfield Beach, Fla.||Deerfield|
|Quavian White||CB||5-9, 178||Greer, S.C.||Greer|