Georgia State introduces Shawn Elliott as new football coach


Georgia State introduces Shawn Elliott as new football coach

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David Barnes
Shawn Elliott, center, speaks at a news conference where he was introduced as the head football coach for Georgia State in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday, December 9, 2016. He was joined by Georgia State president, Mark Becker, left, and athletic director Charlie Cobb, right. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Georgia State has officially entered into the Shawn Elliott era.

The school introduced the new coach at a news conference Friday at the Georgia State Student Center after announcing the hire Thursday. Alongside GSU President Mark Becker and athletic director Charlie Cobb, Elliott spoke about his vision to help take the Panthers to new heights during his tenure.

“The future is bright at Georgia State,” Elliott said. “The stadium that we’re fixing to move into and pack it out every single week and get the energy and the focus — I’m telling you, it’s coming. We’re going to bring it. We’re going to bring it with hard recruiting. We’re going to bring it with effort and enthusiasm. We’re going to attack every single day as if it’s our last.”

Elliott joked that his formula to improve the program was to score a lot of points while not allowing the other team to score. He added that his work as an interim head coach at South Carolina helped prepare him for the opportunity to be the lead man of a program.

The decision to go with Elliott was not too difficult, Cobb said, pointing to Elliott’s experience as an interim as an important boost to his resume.

“We set out to find someone with great energy, somebody who is going to energize our program, and you’ll see it when you watch him coach and you watch the staff that he puts together,” Cobb said.

Elliott is the third coach in GSU history and replaces Trent Miles, who led the team to a 9-38 record during his nearly four years at the program and took the Panthers to the first bowl in their history last season, when the team finished 6-7.

Players said they learned of Elliott’s appointment Thursday just like everyone else, and they look forward to seeing how he could improve the team.

Wide receiver Penny Hart, who missed most of this past season with a broken foot, said he has heard plenty of positives about his new coach and is ready to see how the team can improve next season.

“It was a few people that I knew from South Carolina that told me about him,” Hart said. “Said he was a great guy, high energy — I’m super high energy, so I love that about him, and I can’t wait to experience that. But they said he was a great guy more than anything, so I’m ready to experience that, ready to get this thing rolling.”

Although the players are embracing the new coach, they also are adjusting to the fact that the coaching staff that brought them to GSU may no longer be around.

Elliott said he was meeting with current members of the coaching staff Friday to discuss whether they would stay and that he has already started contacting some people who he previously worked with about joining him in Atlanta.

“It’s definitely going to be different, but it’s going to be good as well because we get to form new connections with these new coaches, and it’s going to be a new relationship, which might be what we need,” running back Kyler Neal said.

With the Georgia high school playoffs taking place in the Panthers’ former home facility, the Georgia Dome, Elliott said he would stop by. He said pitching GSU to recruits will focus on the idea that when players come to GSU, they will have an opportunity to be among the first guys to accomplish a bevy of different things for the program.

Now as the Panthers venture into the offseason with a new man at the helm and a new stadium awaiting them, they will wait to see if the change was for the better.

“I think one of the greatest things that you can sell about Georgia State football (is), ‘let’s do something that’s never been done before here,’” Elliott said. “‘Let’s go win the Sun Belt. Let’s go attack that first bowl game and get that win. Let’s move forward. When you walk out of this program, I want people to say you were the first to do this, the first to do that.’”

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