The Panthers have six players on its squad that played high school football for a Paulding County school. Each one is expected to have a major role this season for Georgia State, which is looking to rebound from a winless 2013 campaign.
The Panthers have three players from East Paulding led by sophomore running back Kyler Neal, who will compete for a starting position after appearing in 10 contests last season.
“The whole team has worked hard this offseason and I’ve built my body in the weight room getting ready for more carries,” Neal said.
The other former Raiders at Georgia State are incoming freshman offensive lineman Tanner Ledbetter and redshirt junior fullback Jonathan Lytle, who said he has enjoyed becoming friends with his former high school rivals.
“It’s been a fun situation coming into college with players you’ve built camaraderie with competing in high school,” said Lytle. “We’ve brought our talents together to represent Paulding County.”
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver and North Paulding alumnus Joel Brooks, who will compete for a starting spot of his own with the Panthers, has noticed the increased talent coming out of Paulding County, including University of Georgia starting wide receiver and former Wolfpack teammate Chris Conley.
“Our county has started to have talented guys like Chris show that Paulding has good players,” Brooks said.
South Paulding has two alumni who will see increased playing time this year for Georgia State, including redshirt freshman long snapper Justin Forrister and sophomore Carnell Hopson who appeared in 11 contests for the Panthers last season and recorded five tackles.
“During high school, we had rivalries and clashed with each other,” said Neal. “Here at Georgia State, we’ve become teammates and brothers.”
The Panthers open their season Aug. 27 against Abilene Christian.