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So, who are the players who may feel pressure by year’s end to maintain either their starting spot or their playing time?
The following is based upon two factors, competition at the position and/or a lack of production so far.
Shawayne Lawrence, defensive end.
I like Shawayne. He’s a nice guy. He gives earnest answers when asked questions. He works hard on the field.
However, he has yet to develop into the defensive linemen many expected when he signed from Eagle’s Landing High School.
He has the size (6-4, 270) and coach Trent Miles often points to Lawrence still being 19 years old as evidence that he will continue to get bigger, stronger and faster, which I assume means Miles believes that he will continue to improve.
While Miles may be right, tackles for loss and sacks are what’s needed and Lawrence has yet to fulfill that immense potential in his first two years.
As a freshman, he had 25 tackles, 3 ½ tackles for loss and a sack. Not bad. Not bad at all for a 17-year-old competing against grown men.
Last year he doubled his tackle total to 50, but still had just 3 ½ tackles for loss to go along with one sack. He eventually lost his starting spot before regaining it.
This year there is competition at the ends with Mackendy Cheridor moving from outside linebacker and the signing of DeQueszman Kelley. Plus, there are also the ends who have been with the team.
If Lawrence can make plays, he should start.
If he can’t, he may become a rotational player.
Jalen Lawrence, nose tackle.
Lawrence is on the list partly because of the signing of Julien Laurent, who at 325 pounds is physically a better fit at nose tackle than his 285-pound competitor.
Lawrence had 39 tackles last year – not bad for a nose tackle – but just 2 ½ tackles for loss and no sacks.
Stats can be deceiving for nose tackles though because their job can focus on trying up blockers so that the linebackers can make plays. If that was the point, Lawrence did well because Trey Payne and Joseph Peterson combined to make almost 180 tackles.
If his role was to be a disruptive force in the middle of the field, then that wasn’t accomplished.
Tarris Batiste, safety.
Batiste is on the list exclusively because of increased competition at his position.
After playing weakside linebacker two years ago he moved to his natural position of safety last year and had 86 tackles, 5 1/2 for loss and a sack.
Still, Georgia State signed Cloves Campbell and Bobby Baker in the offseason. There’s also Ronald Peterkin, Trent Hill, Nate Simon and Dartez Jacobs, any of whom can be used depending upon the down and distance, formation and expected play call from the offense.
Because Batiste is a senior and has all that knowledge and experience, I would be surprised if he were to lose his starting spot. But, competition is competition and things happen
Marcus Caffey, running back.
Here is another example of a victim of increased competition.
Caffey started at cornerback last year before moving to running back and playing seven games, before being moved back to cornerback in the spring before moving again to running back for the summer workouts.
So, he joins (rejoins?) a backfield that includes Kyler Neal, whose injury in the season’s fourth game helped force Caffey’s move from cornerback, UAB transfer Demarcus Kirk and signee Kendrick Dorn, among others.
Neal is the presumed starter with Dorn pushing for playing time, as well.
Caffey had the physical skills and speed to be a solid running back. However, he had a problem with fumbles last year. No coach likes players who fumble.
If he can hold onto the ball, and can pick up the blocking schemes on passing plays, he will likely play. If he can’t, he may not.