New Faces, Same Expectations in Statesboro
New Faces on the Coaching Staff
Defensive Coordinator - Brandon Bailey
Brandon Bailey began his coaching career as a Student Assistant during his time as an undergraduate student at Georgia Southern. Upon graduation in 2016, he joined Coach Willie Fritz' staff at Tulane as a Graduate Assistant. After a season in New Orleans, he was hired at Richmond Hill High School about an hour from Statesboro where he served as Co-Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach in 2017. After one season at the high school level, he jumped back into the college game and became the DB Coach at Arkansas-Monticello for the 2018 season. In 2019, he was hired as a Graduate Assistant on Jimbo Fisher's staff. He worked two years a GA and then became a Defensive Analyst. As one of the rising stars in college football, he was hired by Buffalo as the Defensive Coordinator for Buffalo University for the 2022 season where his squad went from giving up 29.9 points per game in 2021 to 26.7 points per game in 2022. The Eagles brought in several transfers to Bailey's defense in 2023 to help what was an underperforming group last season.
Darius Eubanks was a standout linebacker at Georgia Southern from 2009-2012. After finishing his playing career in Statesboro, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings. He spent time in camp with the Vikings, Browns, Cowboys, and Buccaneers between 2013-2016. He played in 9 games for the Cleveland Browns in 2013. After completing his NFL career, he was hired at Arkansas as a Graduate Assistant primarily coaching the defensive line for the 2017 season. In 2018, he was hired as the Safeties coach for Samford, a role he held for two seasons, before being promoted to DB Coach and Asst. Special Teams Coordinator in 2021. Before the 2021 season began, he left Samford to become the Safeties Coach at Georgia State. After one season at Georgia State, he joined the staff at Liberty University as the DBs Coach in 2022. After hiring DC Brandon Bailey in the 2023 off-season, Coach Eubanks headed home as he joined his Alma Mater's staff as Safeties and Nickel coach in Statesboro.
BJ Johnson was a standout wide receiver for the Georgia Southern Eagles from 2013-2016. After a stellar collegiate career, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisoco 49ers. After a promising start to training camp, BJ suffered a hamstring injury that found him on Injured Reserve. After his stint with the 49ers, he became a volunteer coach for his hometown Woodruff High School before being hired to his first collegiate role at Savannah State. BJ served as the Wide Receivers Coach at Savannah State in 2019 before accepting Graduate Assistant roles at Colorado and Texas State in 2020 and 2021 respectively. In 2022, BJ served as the Wide Receivers Coach for FCS Playoff Qualifier, Gardner Webb. After Marcus Davis left to join the staff at Auburn in the off-season, BJ Johnson joined his Alma Mater and looks to continue improving a talented group of receivers.
TJ Woods joins the Eagles in 2023 with arguably the biggest shoes to fill and the most experience to do so! Last year, the Eagles offensive line unit only gave up 7 sacks on over 600 dropbacks, a staggering number. Woods played at Citeus JC, Iowa State, and Azusa Pacific from 1999-2002 and is a veteran coach with 20 years of college coaching experience. He began his coaching career back in 2003 as a Graduate Assistant for Azusa Pacific. Between then and now, he has served in numerous roles at Citrus JC, New Mexico, Utah State, Wisconsin, Oregon State, Western Kentucky, and most recently - UNLV. In 2021, he was the Offensive Line Coach and in 2022, he added the title of Co-Offensive Coordinator. He joins the Eagles staff as the Offensive Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator in 2023!
Taylor Reed, another rising star in the collegiate coaching ranks, played quarterback for Memphis in 2011 before transferring to Arkansas in 2012 and subsequently Central Arkansas where he played from 2013-2015. Upon completion of his playing career, he joined the Arkansas staff as a Graduate Assistant where he coached from 2016-2017. In 2018, he became the Running Backs Coach for Central Arkansas - his Alma Mater. In 2019, he accepted a Graduate Assistant role at Auburn and remained in that position for two seasons before taking a role on the Illinois staff in 2021. In 2022, he was promoted to Offensive Analyst for the Fighting Illini. In the 2023 off-season, Coach Clay Helton hired Reed to serve as the Running Backs Coach for the Eagles where he will take over an extremely talented position group!
Key Transfer Portal Additions
QB Davis Brin
Davis Brin is a 6th Year transfer from Tulsa where he passed for 5,660 yards and 37 touchdowns between 2020-2022. The 6'2", 210 pound signal caller has solidified himself as the starting QB heading into the Eagles first game against The Citadel. He inherits a veteran offensive line that includes All-Sun Belt Conference talents OT Khalil Crowder and G Brian Miller up front. The skill group returns their top running back, Jalen White, and two top receivers, Khaleb Hood and Derwin Burgess, who combined to catch 145 passes for 1,642 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brin will have the opportunities to pick up right where Kyle Vantrease left off last year and if he can cut down on turnovers, he will lead an extremely successful offense in 2023.
TE Keaton Upshaw
Keaton Upshaw is a 6'7", 245 pound transfer from Kentucky where he played in thirty six games over four seasons - he missed the 2021 season with an injury - in Lexington. He was not targeted often but managed to catch 27 passes for 326 yards between 2019-2022. He should play a much larger role in the Eagles offense than he is accustomed to, especially in the Red Zone as a big target. Look for Upshaw to catch several touchdown passes in goal lines situations this season.
S Tajiri (TJ) Smith
TJ Smith is a 5'9", 185 pound transfer from Kansas State University. He played in 27 games including several starts over three seasons for the 2022 Big XII Champions. He is a hard nosed defender who is not afraid to take some chances and come up with big plays. He will be a big contributor and a veteran presence in the defensive backfield, which was without a doubt the Eagles weak spot last year. Look for TJ to make some big plays, hold his teammates accountable, and play 100 miles an hour! He will be fun to watch!
LB Tarian Lee Jr
Tarian Lee Jr., a RS Senior transfer from Texas A&M, stands 6'2" and weighs in at 240 pounds. He will play a vital role in the defense as he joins veterans Marques Watson-Trent and Khadry Jackson on Brandon Bailey's defense. He played in 23 games for the Aggies between 2019-2022. He looks to play a larger role in the Eagles defense as he plays a hard nosed, aggressive style that matches up perfectly with the philosophy of DC Brandon Bailey. As another veteran player in the locker room, he should be able to mentor young guys and help develop talent for the future as well.
Other transfers include QB Beau Allen (Tarleton State/Kentucky), WR Jaylon Barden (Pitt), OL Bryson Broadway (Georgia State), QB JC French (Memphis), DB Prince Green (Illinois), LB Davin Gilmore (Wingate), DB Daniel Hickman (East Carolina), WR Anthony Queeley (Syracuse), and DB Cam Williams (Washington) who will contribute. As you can tell, defense - especially the defensive backfield - was a priority this off-season!
Key Transfer Portal Departures
Unfortunately, in the era of NIL, we are going to see players leave Georgia Southern for opportunities at bigger schools and increased earning potential. Below are a list of the most impactful transfer portal departures:
DB Tyler Bride - Minnesota
DB Derrick Canteen - Virginia Tech
RB Gerald Green - East Carolina
K Alex Raynor - Kentucky
DB Ashton Whitner - Old Dominion
DB Anthony Wilson - West Virginia
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