Georgia State moves backup QB to linebacker

(DAVID BARNES / AJC file)

Credit: DAVID BARNES / AJC file

Credit: DAVID BARNES / AJC file

Georgia State’s Jamil Muhammad, a redshirt freshman transfer from Vanderbilt who wasn’t able to win the starting quarterback job, has been moved to inside linebacker.

Muhammad served as backup to Quad Brown in the season opener, but did not get on the field. Freshman Mikele Colasurdo, healthy again after a COVID-19 scare, will be the No. 2 quarterback for this week’s game against East Carolina.

“(Muhammad) needs to be on the field,” coach Shawn Elliott said. “He’s an athletic guy who can run, and we thought he could bolster that position. He’s got good defensive instincts you see in practice that he needs to let loose. He’ll add depth, and we’ll get him on the field as soon as possible.”

Muhammad will play inside linebacker and provide depth to starters Trajan Stephens-McQueen and Blake Carroll.

Muhammad (6-foot-1, 229 pounds) from Madison, Ala., comes from an athletic family. He has two brothers who played college football – Marquez at Western Kentucky and Terrance at Alabama A&M – and his uncle Kenneth Darby played at Alabama and in the NFL, including time with the Falcons.

That was the only major roster move for the Panthers going into their second game.

GSU secondary expects a test: Georgia State’s defensive backs played well in the opener and will face another gifted left-handed quarterback in East Carolina’s Holton Ahlers. The junior threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns against Central Florida and has thrown for 5,243 yards and 35 touchdowns since taking over the job in the middle of the 2018 season. He also has run for 1,006 yards and 12 touchdowns.

GSU cornerback Quavian White was outstanding in the opener. He had seven solo tackles, two breakups and an interception that prevented a score. Jaylon Jones, a three-year starter at the other corner spot, also had a big pass breakup.

Safety Chris Moore, a grad transfer from Virginia, showed the sort of experience needed and had three tackles and a breakup. Redshirt freshman Antavious Lane lived up to his billing as a playmaker when he led the team with nine tackles, one for a loss, and forced a fumble.

Coates making noise: Destin Coates set high standards in his season opener, when he ran 34 times for a career-high 150 yards. That was the sixth-highest single game rushing total in the program history. He has 833 career yards, No. 8 on the all-time list.

The effort got the attention of East Carolina coach Mike Houston, who said, “Coates is a very talented running back, an older kid that runs with some power and has speed.”

The Pirates had trouble stopping the run last week. They allowed 224 yards on the ground against Central Florida.

About East Carolina: There are eight Georgians on the East Carolina roster, four of them starters: guard Sean Bailey from Cumming, cornerback Malik Fleming from Fairburn, tackle D’Ante Smith from Augusta and kicker Jake Verity from Bremen. Verity is No. 1 among active FBS kickers in field goals (60) and third in scoring (284).

This will be first meeting between the two teams. It will be televised on ESPNU and can be heard locally on WRAS-FM (88.5). The last time East Carolina played in Atlanta was when the Pirates beat NC State 37-34 in the 1992 Peach Bowl.

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