An already interesting positional battle in Statesboro is suddenly even more curious. Georgia Southern QB Justin Tomlin, a redshirt junior and frontrunner for the starting job, has been ruled academically ineligible. He will miss at least the first two games of the season.
Head coach Chad Lunsford told media that Tomlin would not be available for the early season at Georgia Southern’s preseason press conference in Statesboro. Lunsford, understandably, did not go into detail on the specifics of Tomlin’s sanction. He did, however, explain that this should only be a one-time problem.
“Spring semester and summer he did a good job getting himself in position. It could have been a lot worse,” Lunsford said Wednesday, “but I don’t think we are going to have any problems academically the rest of the way.”
Tomlin did not speak at the press conference and has not yet commented on the matter.
This news creates more uncertainty around an already murky quarterback job. Four-time All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention QB Shai Werts transferred to Louisville in early January, leaving Tomlin among four freshmen (two redshirt, two true) and a redshirt senior who has never seen an NCAA snap. Lunsford had previously named Tomlin as the lead candidate, but emphasized that the job is still very open.
Tomlin finished the 2020 season with 197 rushing yards and on 38 carries and a rushing touchdown. Throwing the ball, the Decatur native completed 11 of 25 attempts for 161 yards with three interceptions. Tomlin appeared in seven of Georgia Southern’s 13 contests last season. His most productive contest came in the win over Florida Atlantic where he ran for 78 yards on 20 attempts and threw for an additional 70 yards.
Despite Tomlin being the top choice through the Summer, Lunsford is not looking for just a two-game fill-in.
”Whoever does end up being the quarterback in game one and game two, there’s no reason why they can’t continue to be the quarterback after that,” he said. “I definitely think [Tomlin] can lead us to a championship, but we are going to give those other young guys a chance.”
Of those other options, Cam Ransom appears to be a top choice.
“He could probably handle [being the starter],” Lunsford said of Ransom, “but I don’t want to over speak on that yet.”
Ransom, should he get the nod, would be the first true freshman in Georgia Southern history to be a week one starter, according to WSAV’s Connor DelPrete.
Luckily for the Eagles, their first two matchups are non-conference battles. They begin the season at home against Gardner-Webb on September 4th, and a week later play Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton.