ATLANTA -- Georgia State wrapped up its first week of spring practice as head coach Shawn Elliott's Panthers continue build the program and work toward their annual Spring Game.
After holding their first three practices this week, the Panthers will pause next for spring break before resuming spring drills on Monday, March 25. Spring practice continues through Saturday, April 13, when Georgia State will hold its Spring Game at 1 p.m. at Georgia State Stadium.
"Just thrilled to be out here with our team again," Elliott said after Friday's practice. "As coaches, we're thrilled anytime we can get out here and interact with these young men around the game of football. I'm getting the sense that we have a really solid group of guys who are committed to doing the things necessary for us to be successful."
The Panthers return the bulk of their personnel on offense on including All-Sun Belt quaterback Dan Ellington, along with veteran linemen Hunter Atkinson and Shamarious Gilmore, second-leading receiver Cornelius McCoy and top running back Tra Barnett.
"If you look at us offensively, we took a step forward a year ago," Elliott said. "Now we have a lot of experience coming back, so we can continue to progress.
"Experience is key, especially at the quarterback position. Dan's very comfortable back there, in control of the offense. He does a lot of good things for us. We're looking for a big year out of Dan, especially from a leadership standpoint. This offseason, he has really come into his own, and we're excited about what he can do leading our offense."
Defensively, the Panthers are focused on improving and growing.
"Defensively we've got to improve in a lot of areas," Elliott said. "We've got some guys who have really put great effort into the weight room and have gotten bigger and stronger while improving their ability to move. I see our defense really stepping it up a notch.
"We played so many young guys last year, and the experience they gained is invaluable, and now they're stepping into year two, still as pups, but with a lot more experience and knowledge."
In addition to a blend of experienced veterans and youth, Elliott's staff features six new assistant coaches.
"You've got to really take advantage of the 15 days you have in spring practice, on the field and especially in the meeting room," he said.
As always, spring football is about building.
"We're gradually trying to improve our football team through fundamentals and hard work. We're building this program from the ground up," Elliott said. "As you see youth gain experience, you see a better football team and a more confident football team.
Excited to see what our guys can come out here and do. It means that we've got some pretty talented players who have an opportunity to play professional football. It's exciting to see the NFL teams come up.