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Georgia State Football: Way-too-Early Look at 2016 - The Linebackers and Special Teams

Today, we're swinging back around to pick up a couple groups we missed.

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Rush Linebackers

Who's Gone: Nate Paxton

Who's New: Javonte Lain, Peyton Moore, Andrew Everett

Outlook: In losing Paxton, the Panthers are losing a reserve linebacker who didn't see the field too much. The story here is who the Panthers added. The biggest name here is January-enrollee Javonte Lain (6-3, 215 lbs.) He's still pretty light, but if he can add on some weight during the spring, Lain could very easily make an impact this season.

Luckily for the Panthers, they return both of their rush linebackers who started last season in Michael Shaw and Alonzo McGee. McGee will be a senior this year, so he'll definitely want to end his career on a high note.

Shaw also brings some potential, as he'll be just a redshirt sophomore this upcoming season. Transfer Andrew Everett also brings some good size at 6 feet 5 inches and 225 pounds.

Inside Linebackers

Who's Gone: Joseph Peterson

Who's New: Charlie Patrick

Outlook: Losing Joseph Peterson for the Panthers is a very tough loss. In each of his four years in Atlanta, Peterson has been the team's leading tackler and was named second team All-Sun Belt in his last two seasons. He finished this year with 116 tackles (70 solo), 9.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.

Replacing Peterson is not going to be easy for the Panthers. He is the best linebacker to every play for them. Looking to do that will be Chase Middleton and Trey Payne, both of whom were the primary back-ups at inside linebacker a year ago. Incoming freshman Charlie Patrick, should he show well in the spring, could also make an impact here.

Kickers & Punters

Who's Gone: Will Lutz

Who's New: N/A

Outlook: This one hurts a little bit. Will Lutz was the only player on the roster who had any experience whatsoever in kicking or punting at the collegiate level. He was a decent kicker with a good leg, but his true value came as a punter, where he averaged 44.3 yards per punt.

Looking to replace him are two players, both freshman: Brandon Wright and Michael Matthews. I think these two will end up splitting the kicking and punting duties.


Who's Gone: Donovan Harden, Avery Sweeting

Who's New: N/A

Outlook: The Panthers are losing their primary punt returners from last year, but that's not really saying too much, since the Panthers as a whole only returned 10 punts for 35 yards.

At kick returner, the Panthers are returning Marquann Greene, who had a fantastic season with 16 returns for 24.3 yards per return and a 100-yard touchdown. I think the Panthers will stick with Greene there and may try to use him as the punt returner too.