Georgia State was one of the youngest teams in the nation as more than 25 true and redshirt freshmen saw action, including many in starting roles. A total of 61 games were started by true or redshirt freshmen.
Junior quarterback Dan Ellington made a tremendous impact in his first season, ranking third in the Sun Belt Conference in passing and total offense while earning All-Sun Belt Conference honors. He also led the team in rushing with 625 yards rushing, the third-highest season total in school history, while throwing only five interceptions.
Junior punter Brandon Wright broke the Sun Belt Conference record for season punting average at 48.2 yards per kick and was named a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award as well as first-team All-Sun Belt Conference. He was third in the nation in average and net punting (42.8, second-best mark in Sun Belt history).
All-star receiver Penny Hart finished his career as the fourth-leading receiver in Sun Belt Conference history with 2,950 career receiving yards on 202 receptions. With Hart and Robert Davis (3,391 receiving yards from 2013-16), two of the top four in Sun Belt history are Panthers.
Georgia State set school records for rushing yards (2,057) and rushing touchdowns (21), improving its running game by nearly 60 yards per game over last season. And that was with two freshmen running backs and three redshirt freshmen starting on the offensive line.
The Panthers recorded four of the top nine single-game rushing games in school history, led by a GSU-record 308 yards vs. ULM. Three different Panthers had 100-yard games: Tra Barnett (161), Seth Paige (145) and Dan Ellington (113).
Georgia State had just six passes intercepted all season. The 2017 Panthers threw nine interceptions, giving GSU just 15 interceptions in coach Shawn Elliott's two seasons.
The Panthers will return 10 starters on offense and nine on defense in 2019.
On offense, GSU returns nearly every significant player while adding two dynamic running backs (Destin Coates returning from injury and Dawson Hill), a talented 6-4 receiver (Sam Pinckney returning from injury), three more offensive linemen who redshirted, including 6-6, 330-pound Travis Glover, and a transfer tight end (Aubry Payne).
Seven Panthers were named to the All-Sun Belt team:
P Brandon Wright (1st), WR Penny Hart (3rd), OL Hunter Atkinson (3rd), QB Dan Ellington (hm), OL Shamarious Gilmore (hm), DL Terry Thomas (hm) and WR Cornelius McCoy (hm).
Starting defensive end Terry Thomas was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team, Georgia State's 11th Academic Academic All-District selection in just nine seasons of football and seventh over the last four seasons. The junior biological science major is enrolled in the Honors College.
Five former Panthers are active in the NFL in 2018, led by Pro Bowl hopeful Wil Lutz of the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson, along with cornerback Chandon Sullivan (Philadelphia Eagles), receiver Robert Davis (Washington Redskins) and offensive lineman Ulrick John (New England Patriots). Two other Panthers are active in the CFL in Nick Arbuckle, backup quarterback for the Grey Cup Champion Calgary Stampeders, and BC Lions defensive lineman Julien Laurent.
Construction of the new football operations center is underway. When it is complete this spring, the team will have all its operations at Georgia State Stadium, with new weight room, athletic training room, coaches offices and meeting rooms adjacent to the locker room.