Five things to watch at the Georgia State spring game Thursday

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Now that Georgia State has completed spring practice – going earlier than ever before – it’s time for the staff to measure the progress that was made. By starting practice in February, the new additions have gotten a head start on learning the system and blending into the culture that’s been established.

“It’s been good,” Elliott said. “Spring is always about inconsistencies, players getting banged up, but new faces in there, getting better as individuals and growing our culture as a team. So, as you get guys back, you start honing your groups and getting ready for the fall.”

The Panthers will display their progress when they play the annual Blue and White game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Center Parc Stadium. Admission and parking are free.

Elliott got the idea of the early start from new strength-and-conditioning coach Mike Sirignano. Given the unseasonably good weather, the Panthers chose wisely.

“He thought it would be really beneficial if we moved spring practice up and give us a few extra weeks on the back end leading into August practice,” Elliott said. “We would have an opportunity to continuously train and get bigger and stronger.”

Here are five things to watch in the spring game:

The impact of the incoming transfers: The transfer portal definitely took away some talented players, but it also supplied plenty of experienced replacements – some of them upgrades over the departed players. Those with the biggest impact include outside linebacker Kevin Swint, defensive lineman Henry Bryant, wide receivers Jacari Carter and Darius Bush and offensive lineman Tyden Ferris. All are expected to be in the startling lineup.

“Those guys are playing at high level, and they’re really going to help us,” Elliott said.

The reconstruction of the offensive line: Ferris, a transfer from Central Michigan, will start at right guard and join veterans Travis Glover and Luis Cristobal. This is a good opportunity for returners Montavious Cunningham, Jonathan Brown, Avery Reece and Mason Cook and transfer Lamar Robinson to audition for playing time. Development of depth is important here, an issue that caught up with the Panthers last season.

The progress of the defensive line: The Panthers lost a couple of starters to the portal – Thomas Gore to Miami and Jamil Muhammad to Southern Cal. But incoming transfer Swint is an upgrade at outside linebacker and transfer Bryant will start at nose guard. Javon Denis is an aggressive end who had a great spring. Jeffery Clark and Tylon Dunlap both have experience as starters up front, and transfer Ricardo Williams is another name to watch.

The makeup of the secondary: Bryquice Brown is the only returning starter from a group that graduated cornerbacks Quavian White and Jaylon Jones and safety Jacorey Crawford and lost all-conference safety Antavious Lane via the transfer portal. The spring game will be an opportunity to see new pieces such as transfer TyGee Leach and Salen Streater, as well as holdovers Jalen Tate, Jeremiah Johnson and Makkah Jordan.

“I think we’re going to be OK back there,” Elliott said. “The one thing about secondary play, if you’ve got good frontline play, then you’ve got a good secondary. But typically when you don’t have good frontline play, you really struggle in the secondary.”

Competition at backup quarterback: Darren Grainger is set as the starter. But with backup Mikele Colasurdo out this spring with a medical issue, a group of four freshman have battled for position as the next man up. Incoming freshmen Braylen Ragland and Bryson Harrison have been competing against redshirt freshmen Kyle Durham and Noah Ross to get the inside track on the No. 3 spot. Ragland, a three-star recruit from Memphis, appears to have edged ahead.

“All those guys have done well,” Elliott said. “(Ragland) is kind of getting out of his high school jitters where his feet get a little fast in the pocket. But he throws the ball as well as I think any guys who have come in as an early incoming freshman.”

The Panthers will open the regular season Aug. 31 at home against Rhode Island, the first of the team’s three Thursday night games.