It wasn’t exactly a revelatory occasion for Dell McGee. He has previous experience as a college head coach, even if it was only for a bowl game. But Tuesday it wasn’t a temporary arrangement. On this brisk, sunny March morning at Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium, McGee, looking sharp in the GSU-branded charcoal-colored warmups, was the boss.

“No different for me because I’ve been a head coach before,” he said. “So I didn’t feel any different. I’m really excited. You don’t get these opportunities very often. I’m humbled and blessed, and I want to seize this opportunity to the maximum.”

He did acknowledge, however, that it was nice to see the center successfully snap the ball to the quarterback for the first time.

“That was good, getting some plays off,” he said. “Just the basic fundamentals, playing with great effort, doing the little things right, making sure we’ve got 11 on offense and 11 on defense,”

The Panthers went through the first of 13 spring sessions – a spring that was hastily postponed following the resignation of coach Shawn Elliott on Feb. 15. Although the first day was expectedly more frenetic than usual, McGee was pleased with how his debut went.

The similarities with the way things are organized and conducted at the University of Georgia – where McGee spent the past eight years as an assistant – are apparent. But McGee opted to avoid having an on-field microphone – a decision he may revisit after leaving practice with a raspy voice.

“We’ve got things to clean up from an organizational standpoint and just getting our base fundamentals and our culture that we want to develop at practice,” McGee said. “But really a good first day.”

There are a lot of moving parts to spring practice this year. A new coaching staff. New terminology. New way workouts are conducted. New expectations.

And a lot of new names to learn. McGee might want to invest in some of those, “Hello my name is …” name tags.

“Getting the staff together, which we have, and making sure all the coaches are on the same page,” he said. “We’re actually coaching the coaches, making sure what we’re going to install was more than enough, but we want to make sure we’re not overloading the kids right now. Our first goal was just basic fundaments, how to approach the day, and having elite walk-throughs as well as practices.”

McGee was impressed by the way the players have made the adjustment and pivoted toward the new staff.

“I think they’re handling it fine,” he said. “It’s a really nice group of young men, very high-character kids, hard working. They’ve been willing to do everything we’ve asked them to do; we haven’t had any complaints out of our kids.”

McGee has an “open-door” policy for the players. If one comes by with an issue or problem, it will be addressed at once, he said.

“If we’re having a meeting and a player comes by our staff meeting or our office, we’re going to step out and make sure that our transition is smooth, but also hear them out because they also have a voice,” McGee said. “We understand this is a difficult situation. I think we’re past that now, and it’s just fun establishing our culture during spring football and trying to meet the expectations day by day.”

The first day of practice also provided an opportunity to host numerous high school prospects and their families.

“That’s it. Recruit or die, right,” he said. “You’ve got to have really good players to be successful.”

The Panthers will practice again Thursday, working toward the spring game, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. April 12 at Center Parc Stadium.