With less than 24-hours until the Georgia State Panthers and Ball State Cardinals matchup in the 2021 TaxAct Camellia Bowl, more national attention than usual will be focused towards the two Group of 5 programs.
For those tuning in just to get their bowl game fix on Christmas, these are three players from each team, one for each phase of play, that you ought to keep an eye on.
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Ball State – WR Justin Hill
Hill is one of, if not the single, most dangerous threats in the BSU offense. He led the team in receptions (61), all-purpose yards (1,373) and finished joint-first for most rushing touchdowns (6) in the regular season. Hill is the top receiving option for QB Drew Plitt, poses an incredible threat in the return game, and sees regular usage on the ground. Note that Hill is so good in the return game, in fact, he was named to the All-MAC First Team and would likely be BSU’s special teams X-Factor if doubling-up was allowed.
Georgia State – RB Tucker Gregg
After being used primarily as a short-distance back last season, Gregg became one of three primary ball carriers for the Panthers. He, RB Jamyest William, and QB Darren Grainger all saw upwards of 100 carries this season but Gregg was the only one to break the 125 mark (Gregg had 176 regular season touches). He averaged 74.9 yards per carry in the regular season; that number jumps to 91.5 when considering just the back half.
Ball State – S Bryce Cosby
Cosby plays effectively both inside and outside the box, making him a tough safety to gameplan around. His 101 total tackles were second-highest on the team and most by a BSU defensive back since at least 2007 (Ball State’s stat-keeping is spotty beyond that point). Add in his team-high 10.5 tackles for loss, second-best four sacks, and two interceptions and pass breakups each, and you can understand by Cosby deserved his place on the All-MAC First Team.
Georgia State – S Antavious Lane
This season, Lane was named to the All-Sun Belt First Team as a redshirt sophomore. In doing so, he became the first GSU defensive player since 2016 to earn that honor and the only non-senior to do so in program history. Lane is best described as a ball hawk; he tied the Georgia State record with four single season picks (a record he already jointly owned) and set the program record for career interceptions as well.
Ball State – P Nathan Snyder
Ball State reached the red zone just 38 times this season, fourth-lowest in the MAC. However, Snyder helped the Cardinals regain strong field position and played no small part in holding BSU opponents to just 40 red zone trips of their own. He was named to the All-MAC First Team (the first BSU punter to do so since 2007) thanks to a MAC-best 28 fair catches forced and an impressive 42.4 yards per boot.
Georgia State – K Noel Ruiz
While by no means an objective measure, Ruiz may have the best ‘clutch gene’ of any player on either team. While playing for FCS program North Carolina A&M in 2019 he hit a near walk-off 52-yard field goal that gave the Aggies a win over in-state rival Elon. Ruiz is yet to hit another at-the-buzzer game-winner, but has been a reliable leg for a team that prefers to go for it on fourth than attempt a field goal. He missed just two kicks all year, from 42- and 48-yards, and hit a 50-yarder in the Panthers’ final regular season.