Georgia Southern Football’s First Recruiting Class led by Clay Helton
STATESBORO – Clay Helton was so loaded about a player he called “Mr. Electric” and the other 19 first signers with Georgia Southern on Wednesday, it wouldn’t be known he has pushed himself into exhaustion since. that he got the job on November 2.
Still, Helton, a 27-year-old veteran coach, seemed eager to start the 2022 season as he held a press conference to discuss the last 20 additions to the Eagles’ schedule on day one of the first signing period for college football. .
Omari Arnold, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound backer, led Brooks County to the GHSA Class A public crown with a performance of 320 yards and five touchdowns. Arnold has run for 2,544 yards and 42 touchdowns this season and over 6,500 yards with 95 touchdowns and 110 overall for his career.
“What can I say about Omari Arnold, ‘Mr. Electric ‘? Helton said. “I acted like a sixth grader in the state championship game watching it on TV. Here’s a guy who totaled over 6,500 yards. He’s 12th in the history of this great state. as one of the best rushers of all time. Just a real electric player that we’re so glad we have. “
Arnold was the only running back among 10 offensive and 10 defensive players to sign national letters of intent – including 17 from Peach State. Helton had said in a press conference on Monday that the Eagles were strong in running backs and offensives, and he really wanted to balance heavy offense with more passing play.
More explosive games mean more explosive players, and Helton felt the need was largely met in the wide catcher and quarterback skill positions.
Georgia Southern signed Dalen Cobb, who played a quarterback at Washington-Wilkes but is screened as a receiver, along with Joshua Thompson of Johns Creek as well as two receivers who reversed previous verbal engagements to other colleges – Josh Dallas from Trinity Christian (Western Michigan) and Marcus Sanders Jr. of Macon County (Sun Belt Conference rival in Southern Alabama).
“I’ve worked across the country, and the speed and explosiveness that these four men bring to the table is very, very impressive,” Helton said. “Getting the four of them together to really set the tone as we move from one attacking style to another was extremely important.”
Dallas won the GHSA Class A private state title this season with his brother David as quarterback and their father Kenny as Trinity Christian’s head coach in Sharpsburg. Helton called David Dallas and his colleague Zak Rozsman from George Walton High to Marietta “two elite quarterbacks” with huge passing statistics in high school.
David Dallas has had 8,846 yards and 92 touchdowns in his career, while Rozman has amassed 6,000 yards and 50 points in 37 starts.
Helton credited offensive coordinator Bryan Ellis, one of many hires this month as he bolsters his staff, with helping seal the deal on QBs. Ellis, a former college QB, came from Western Kentucky, the FBS’s best passing attack this season.
“I don’t know if that will happen if Bryan Ellis isn’t around, to be honest with you,” Helton said. “Bringing together these wide four and these two quarters, to see what the future may hold for us, was a huge effort on the part of these staff.”
The Dallas brothers enlisted in western Michigan and then announced their decision to stay in the state and come to Statesboro on Monday.
“I would have chosen one or the other,” Helton said of their recruiting together. “These are such unique talents – each of them on their own. I’ve always recruited every man for every man.
He called Josh Dallas a physical receiver with the same approach as two of his former Southern Cal managers, JuJu Smith-Shuster and Michael Pittman Jr., both now in the NFL.
“To have them both, I feel like I won the lottery twice,” Helton said of the Dallas brothers. “These are two children who went until the last second.”
Georgia Southern staff also worked on the latest available opportunities for official visits and contact with prospects. There was no time to waste because there wasn’t much.
He has given a lot of praise to his coaches and staff – some of whom started recruiting before moving to Statesboro, Helton said – because they adopted a “no job too small, all hands on” mentality. the bridge “.
“Being a bit shorthanded it took everyone in the building,” said Helton, who mainly hired on the offensive side of the ball and was more patient before bringing in a defensive coordinator, who will have his say. to say in the selection of field assistants.
Another key was the retention of the only remaining previous staff, Kevin Whitley. In his third year as the GS cornerback coach, Whitley was selected to be the interim head coach when Chad Lunsford was fired on September 26. Whitley was an All-America defensive back for the Eagles and later was a successful head coach in Peach State. at the high school level, so the experience and continuity it brings have been invaluable.
Preview of the signing day:Georgia Southern coach Clay Helton creates the first recruiting class
Whitley could speak for the defense in recruiting prospects, particularly at the defensive back where Helton said the roster needs depth after a 2021 season when this unit was plagued with injuries. So welcome Zyere Horton from Milton, Treston Jordan from Denmark, Kevin Speed from Cairo, Marc Stampley II from Starr’s Mill and Ashton Whitner from West Greenville, SC, one of the two recruits from Palmetto State.
“… Coach Whit has had a lot of great relationship with these kids, has kept that relationship, and they are kids who can come and be able to help us immediately,” Helton said.
The other South Carolina rookie is Ky Tayo (6-1, 290) of Spring Valley, Colombia, who brings size to a defensive line with Da’Shawn Davis (6-3, 280) of Charlotte, NC, and the only transfer, Kristian Varner (6-4, 300), from Hiram High via the University of North Carolina.
Helton said Davis is an elite passer who can play inside or on the rim. He also likes the height of linebackers Jacob Hammonds (6-3, 215) of Griffin and MJ Stroud (6-4, 235) of Alcovy.
“They look like they’ve been in college for a few years now,” the coach said.
Eight of the signatories will get a jump on their college years by enrolling in January. This includes offensive linemen Nate Lewis of Jeff Davis, Chandler Strong of Houston County and Pichon Wimbley of Newnan. They will have the benefit of training with the team in the spring and will have access to strength training and conditioning on campus.
Georgia Southern 2022 Advance Class (listed alphabetically)
Name, Pos., Height, Weight, Hometown, High school (last school)
Omari Arnold, RB, 5-9, 185, fr., Valdosta, Brooks County
Dalen Cobb, WR, 5-10, 185, fr., Washington, Washington-Wilkes
David Dallas, QB, 6-0, 195, fr., Sharpsburg, Trinity Christian
Josh Dallas, WR, 6-1, 215, fr., Sharpsburg, Trinity Christian
Da’Shawn Davis, DL, 6-3, 280, fr., Charlotte, NC, Hough
Jacob Hammonds, LB, 6-3, 215, fr., Griffin, Griffin
Zyere Horton, DB, 6-2, 200, fr., Woodstock, Milton *
Treston Jordan, DB, 6-0, 200, fr., Alpharetta, Denmark
Nate Lewis, OL, 6-4, 280, fr., Hazlehurst, Jeff Davis *
Zak Rozsman, QB, 6-3, 200, Fr., Marietta, Georgia, George Walton *
Marcus Sanders Jr., WR, 6-3, 195, fr., Montezuma, Macon County
Kevin Speed, DB, 6-2, 200, fr., Cairo, Cairo
Marc Stampley II, DB, 5-11, 180, fr., Fayetteville, Starr’s Mill
Chandler Strong, OL, 6-3, 290, fr., Warner Robins, Houston County *
MJ Stroud, OLB, 6-4, 235, fr., Covington, Alcovy
Ky Tayo, DL, 6-1, 290, fr., Columbia, SC, Spring Valley *
Joshua Thompson, WR, 5-11, 185, Fr., Johns Creek, GA, Johns Creek
Kristian Varner, DL, 6-4, 300, RS-Jr., Hiram, Georgia, Hiram (UNC) *
Ashton Whitner, DB, 6-1, 195, fr., West Greenville, SC, Greenville *
Pichon Wimbley, OL, 6-3, 315, fr., Moreland, Newnan *
* – registered scheduled for January
Nathan Dominitz is the Sports Content Editor for Savannah Morning News and savannahnow.com. Email him at [email protected]. Twitter: @NathanDominitz