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Photo: AJ Henderson/Georgia Southern University

It was a return to some normalcy for the first time in over a year as the Georgia Southern football team kicked off its 15-practice spring session Wednesday afternoon on the banks of Beautiful Eagle Creek. It marked the first-on field action since throttling of Louisiana Tech in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl last December. Here are a few takeaways from the first day on the field.

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Who’s Behind Center
For the first time since the Troy game on Dec. 3, 2016, a name other than “Werts” will be at the top of the quarterback depth chart. Shai Werts graduated and used his extra year of eligibility to try his hand at wide receiver at Louisville. That leaves the spot open to a large group of contenders, led by Justin TomlinSam Kenerson and Georgia Tech transfer James Graham. Also in camp are Connor CigelskeJaden JenkinsAlex Bowen and Will Lovett Jr. Offensive coordinator Doug Ruse has said that the competition is open and will go as long as needed to figure out who will be behind center on Sept. 4 in the opener.

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The Big Guys Up Front
The offensive line returns four of five starters from 2020 and will go a long way in determining the level of success for the Eagles in 2021. From left to right, Brian MillerAaron DowdellLogan LangemeierKhalil Crowder and Caleb Kelly enter spring ball as the No. 1s on the line, but the Eagles have a deep group up front for new line coach Geep Wade.

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Back to the Creek
Georgia Southern practiced just once at Beautiful Eagle Creek in all of 2020 – including spring practice – and that was the last practice of 2020 before leaving for the bowl game in New Orleans. Spring practice was shut down before any practices could be held there and coaches tried to keep players socially distanced as much as possible in the fall to try and prevent program shutdowns, thus practicing at Paulson Stadium all season. The first three practices of this spring session are scheduled to be held at B.E.C.

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One More Time
Nine players took advantage of the NCAA’s COVID-19 year and will return as “Super Seniors” in 2020. While unofficial, a poll of all 130 football media relations department revealed that Georgia Southern leads the nation with nine “Super Seniors” this season. Those nine are: Javon JacksonTodd Bradley-GlennDarrell Baker Jr.J.D. KingDexter Carter Jr.Randy Wade Jr.Aaron DowdellRobb Bozeman and Lawrence Edwards.

Mid-Year Enrollees
Nine players took to the field for their first time as Eagles on Wednesday after joining the program in January. Those players are: Derwin Burgess Jr.Caleb CookTyrell DavisJames GrahamAndrew Johnson Jr.Amare JonesJjay McafeeIsaac Walker and Myzell Williams.

New Coaches
While a bunch of new faces put on helmets for the first time, there were also several new coaches on the field for the first time. Putting on the blue and white for the first time were Geep Wade and Joe Graves, but for Favian Upshaw and Derrick Sherman, Eagle Creek is a place they’ve spent a lot of time at. With these new additions, there is now a former Eagle football player from four decades now on the Georgia Southern athletics staff: 1980s – Tracy Ham; 1990s – Kevin Whitley; 2000s – Adrian PetersonVictor Cabral, Matt Wise; 2010s – Favian Upshaw.

The Eagles will return to the field on Thursday for the second practice of the spring season. The Spring Game, presented by Southern Exchange, will be on April 24 at 1 p.m.

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