This may be Avery Sweeting’s last chance at Georgia State. He wants to take advantage of it.
Sweeting arguably is the Panthers’ fastest player, a smallish wide receiver who can outrun almost anything except for coach Trent Miles’ long arm of the law.
“Everyone knows I lost my scholarship,” Sweeting said. “I had a lot of time to spend at home, thinking about growing up. I actually got a job. Working, being on time to that and being around those people at the Boys and Girls Club helped me grow up.”
To recap: Sweeting was suspended in 2013 before the third game against West Virginia for a violation of team rules. Later that season, he was held out of all team-related activities so that he could focus on his academics. He rejoined the team in July 2014, but was suspended before the third game against Air Force because he violated an athletics-department rule during the spring semester earlier in the year. He seemed to have run out of room at Georgia State when Miles announced in January that Sweeting was dismissed from the team. No reason was given.
His receiving career at Georgia State: 21 games (out of a possible 35), 28 receptions, 365 yards, two touchdowns and way too many mistakes in judgment.
“You only learn by repetition and shock,” Miles said. “Repeatedly disciplining him or suspending him wasn’t getting it.”
Sweeting went home to Brunswick, where he became a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club from February to July.
He never stopped thinking about Georgia State. His coaches didn’t stop thinking about him.
Assistant coach Tim Lappano stayed in touch, finally asking Sweeting if he had learned from his mistakes.
Sweeting said he was ready to show them that he had.
“I never gave up on coming back,” Sweeting said. “I signed to play four years of football here. That’s what I wanted.”
Miles decided to give Sweeting one more chance. He rejoined the team during the summer and earned back his scholarship.
“It’s been laid out really clear to him that there’s no room for error,” Lappano said. “But he’s taking care of his business right now.”
To help him, linebacker Joseph Peterson, a team leader and like Sweeting a member of the 2012 signing-day class, asked to be his roommate.
“It’s just a blessing to have him back,” Peterson said. “He’s a new guy, new attitude and I think he even got faster.”
Like Peterson, Sweeting said he is trying to surround himself with good friends who want to help him so that he can avoid some of the situations that led to the suspensions.
Sweeting hasn’t lost a step on the field. He has three touchdown receptions in two scrimmages, and Lappano said he should have had five. He’s a weapon that Georgia State’s offense can use … as long as he continues to handle everything off the field.
“He’s grown up,” he said. “He’s done an excellent job, and I hope he continues, of doing everything that we’ve asked.”