Georgia State completes roster, for now, with 12 additions

Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott coaches on the sideline during the Panthers' game against Rhode Island at Center Parc Stadium, Thursday, August 31, 2023, in Atlanta. Georgia State won 42-35 against Rhode Island. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott coaches on the sideline during the Panthers' game against Rhode Island at Center Parc Stadium, Thursday, August 31, 2023, in Atlanta. Georgia State won 42-35 against Rhode Island. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

With the start of spring practice only a few days away, Georgia State completed its roster Wednesday by adding five high school seniors and seven transfers.

“In this day and age of the portal and high school recruiting, it’s ever-changing, but I felt like we made huge strides,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “The needs we identified for our program have been met, and now it’s up to us to go out and develop these young men and get them where they need to be.”

Two of the freshmen are Georgians – inside linebackers Jacobi Jones (6-foot, 200 pounds), a first-team all-state selection from Mary Persons High in Forsyth, and Brent Washington (6-0, 230) from Rockmart, a two-time all-state linebacker.

The other three freshmen are outside linebacker Deity Deablo (6-4, 230) from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, two-time all-state wide receiver Avery McFadden (5-9, 175) from Simpsonville, South Carolina, and quarterback D.J. Murray Jr. (5-11, 180) from Daytona Beach, Florida, who led Mainland High to the state championship.

Two of the transfers came from Georgia Tech – quarterback Zach Gibson (6-2, 201) and cornerback Kenyatta Watson (6-1, 195). Both are local products; Gibson played at Johns Creek and Watson at Grayson.

The offensive line was bolstered by the addition of transfers Joshua Black (6-2, 277), a Stephenson product who is transferring from Louisville, and Da’Quarise Brown (6-4, 290), who comes from Newberry.

The other four transfers are defensive players – safety Derrick Maxey III (6-0, 180) from Hapeville Charter by way of Coastal Carolina, outside linebacker K.D. McDaniel (6-2, 230) from Tift County and Central Florida and inside linebacker Martez Thrower (6-2, 225) from Wilcox County via Kentucky.

“Everyone we brought in as a transfer has a chance to play, and when I say play, I mean play right away,” Elliott said. “Ultimately that’s what you have to do. You want them to come in and play right away. Otherwise I’d go out and sign every high school athlete I could, but that’s not the case in recruiting now. You lose positions on your roster, you have to replace them with experienced guys; otherwise you get lost and have a lot of setbacks.

“Every coach feels like they’ve addressed every position as good as he can. It’s hard to say until you go through spring practice. Once we get those guys in there, probably seven days into it, we’re going to know if we’ve done the right thing or not.”

It’s part of the ever-changing landscape of college football, where the transfer portal and NIL money have kept things in flux.

“I don’t know how anybody handles the challenge,” Elliott said. “You just kind of sit back and see what happens. We had two subtractions to the roster three weeks after school started. It’s hard because you think you have the roster set and now got to add two more guys and start the whole process again. It’s a continuous process.”

Those two transfers – experienced receivers Jacari Carter and Tailique Williams – weakened a strong corps of pass catchers.

“Still got a few more additions we’re going to have,” Elliott said. “This day and age you never know what could happen. Looking to add another round (of transfers) coming in May. Recruiting used to never end. Now it never ends. We’re doing our best to handle the roster and meet the needs. "

Georgia State will begin its spring practice Tuesday and will hold its annual spring game March 7.

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