With Georgia State’s season one-fourth complete and the team preparing to host Liberty on Saturday, which players are the pleasant surprises?
WR Penny Hart. After a sort-of slow start with one catch for a touchdown in the opener against Charlotte, he entered last weekend as the top freshman wide receiver in FBS with 21 receptions for 331 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the nation in receptions (7) and receiving yards per game (110.3).
S Bobby Baker. The UAB transfer had five takeaways in the opener against Charlotte. Not bad for someone coming back from knee surgery. He had two interceptions and three fumbles recovered. He is third on the team in tackles (22) and also has two passes defensed.
RB DeMarcus Kirk. The UAB transfer left just before fall camp to help a family member and then returned just before the first game. He has played in two games and rushed 18 times for 91 yards. He’s shown a toughness between the tackles and a burst of speed. Injuries to Kendrick Dorn and Taz Bateman may open a door for Kirk to earn more playing time.
OLB Alonzo McGee. It shouldn’t be a surprise that McGee is on the list. He was a starter at UAB before transferring to Georgia State. Though he’s playing in a system to that at UAB, he is playing with new teammates. Still, he is wreaking “havoc,” according to defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. McGee is fourth on the team with 16 tackles and leads the team with six tackles for loss and two sacks.
C Gabe Mobley. The redshirt freshman has filled in for Taylor Evans and done a solid job this season, part of a group that helping the Panthers average 138.7 rushing yards per game. Perhaps of more importance, Mobley adds depth to a line that has been paper-thin this season.
DB Jerome Smith. He was an impact player before suffering an injury in the win against New Mexico State. He had three pass broken up and ½ sack, despite playing mostly in nickel situations.
RB Taz Bateman. Next to Hart, Bateman was arguably the second-biggest surprise. With his speed and elusiveness, he proved tough to find and tackle in the season’s first 1 ½ games, racking up 99 rushing yards and four receptions for 43 yards.