Georgia State identifies two defensive contributors in camp

Safety Lane Antavious.
Safety Lane Antavious.

Credit: Greg Braxton

Credit: Greg Braxton

As Georgia State settles into preparation for its season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 19, the Panthers may have found a pair of defensive players who could help solidify the weak link in last season’s 7-6 team.

Defensive lineman Jeffery Clark, a redshirt freshman from Powder Springs, and safety Antavioius Lane, a redshirt freshman from West Palm Beach, Fla., have impressed coach Shawn Elliott as potential impact players this fall.

Clark (6-foot, 275 pounds) is another in a long line of players developed out of Cobb County high school power McEachern. He had 78 tackles and 9.5 sacks as a senior and helped the Indians reach the second round of the state playoffs.

Clark did not see any game action last season, but got stronger and quicker in the offseason and has pushed he way to the front of the line. He was one of the bright spots of preseason camp.

Safety Lane Antavious
Safety Lane Antavious

Clark Jeffery
Clark Jeffery

“Coming off his redshirt year, (Clark) really changed his body, changed his mindset, and he’s doing a really good job,” Elliott said.

Clark could earn playing time left by the graduation of Terry Thomas, an honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference player. He could join returners Dontae Wilson, the team’s defensive rock at nose guard, and Hardrick Willis, their top pass rusher, in the starting lineup.

“He has made a lot of plays for us over the course of camp,” Elliott said. “Probably because of his mentality, his explosiveness. On the defensive side, he’s going to be an impact player for us. He has been a pleasant surprise.”

Lane (5-9, 180) was a three-star athlete and had 103 tackles and six interceptions his senior year at Dwyer High School. Before that he was a teammate of current Georgia State tight end Herman McCray at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach.

Lane played in four games for the Panthers as a freshman and made three tackles. This season he could fill the gap left at safety by the graduation of team captain Remy Lazarus.

“You’re going to hear a lot about him this year,” Elliott said. “One of the more explosive players on our football team. He generates a lot of turnovers, he’s a sure tackler and he’s one of the guys who has stepped up during fall camp.”

Much attention has been paid to improvement of the Georgia State defense. A year ago the Panthers ranked ninth in their 10-team league in scoring defense (36.2 points) and eighth in total defense (455.3 yards per game).

An impressive newcomer on offense has been running back Marcus Carroll from Union City. Carroll, an all-region player at Hapeville Charter, is competing for time with veterans Destin Coates and Seth Paige to replace Trae Barnett, the school’s all-time leading rusher.

The quarterback job has evolved into a two-man battle between redshirt freshman Jamil Muhammad, a transfer from Vanderbilt, and Cornelious Brown, a redshirt freshman from Birmingham. Highly regarded freshman Mikele Colasurdo will miss the season with COVID-19-related health issues.