For a program that prides itself on being able to run the football, Georgia State may have signed its next signature running back Wednesday.
The Panthers signed 15 on signing day, among them record-breaking running back KZ Adams of Gray Collegiate Academy in West Columbia, S.C.
“He’s the best player in the state of South Carolina, and we’re thrilled to have him coming into to play for us,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “For us he’s going to be an electric back.”
The only thing that prevented Adams from receiving a Power Five offer is his size – 5-foot-6, 160 pounds. But a rudimentary look his video highlights reveals a guy who has great speed, the ability to cut and shift with ease, and a knack for escaping a crowd. On one play he caught a screen pass among five defenders and left them all on the ground as he escaped and ran for a touchdown.
Adams finished one of the greatest single seasons in South Carolina history. He rushed for a state-record 3,343 yards and 50 total touchdowns for Gray Collegiate and was a finalist for Mr. South Carolina Football. He led Gray to a 13-1 record and the Class 2A championship. He rushed for 309 yards and three touchdowns in the title game.
“I remember looking at him really early in the recruiting process and I said, ‘He’s the back. He’s the best back. Let’s go get him.’ He had some late suitors come to the table but he stood strong and he’s coming to play for the Georgia State Panthers.”
Adams is a three-star prospect who had offers from Air Force, Army and Furman, among others.
The Panthers also signed Adams’ teammate, offensive line prospect Alec Johnson (6-1, 275). Elliott was encouraged to look at Johnson by Gray assistant coach Corey Helms, who played for Elliott at South Carolina. That recommendation earned Johnson an invitation to a GSU camp and Elliott immediately noticed his work ethic.
“He was the hardest worker I think I’ve seen at our camp,” Elliott aid. “He has tremendous leverage. He had good ball skills and he plays with unbelievable effort.” Johnson will be groomed as a center.
The only other offensive linemen signed were Chauncey Kamakea of Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby and Bryson Broadway of Dawsonville, who is transferring from Eastern Illinois.
The lone quarterback signee was Keiton Brown of Zachary, La., who is transferring from Memphis. Brown was the No. 24-ranked dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school but found himself fourth on the depth chart and entered the transfer portal in October.
“He needed a fresh start and we had an opportunity for a fresh start here,” Elliott said. “He seemed to fit in what we were looking for in a quarterback and both the athleticism and mentality. We thought it was a perfect fit.”
Other offensive players added were receiver Rykem Laney from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, tight end Avion McBride of West Florence, S.C., and
The Panthers hope to have their edge rusher in Michal Hill, a three-star from Newnan. He had offers from Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Army and Air Force among others.
Much focus was given to the secondary, where the Panthers signed four cornerbacks and three safeties.
Cornerbacks signed were three-star Isaiah Guy of Ocala, Fla., D-Icey Hopkins of Northeast Macon High, JayT Jackson of Spencer HS, and Jeremiah Johnson, a transfer from Mississippi Delta Community College. The safeties coming on board are Isaiah Holland of Valdosta HS, P.J. Simmons of Eagle’s Landing Christian and Christopher Smith, a Dacula native and transfer from Garden City (Kan.) Community College.
“We had to add some secondary player, and I think we addressed that with some older guys and some youth as well,” Elliott said. “I think we helped ourselves out.”
Elliott indicated there might be additional signees coming along soon.
“There’s always someone out there or something happening that can benefit you and your football program,” he said. “We’re always going to have our eyes open for that opportunity.”