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Loss of top Georgia Southern signee causes shift in backfield

POSTED: June 12, 2014 9:39 p.m.

The movement on Georgia Southern’s football two-deep has continued into the offseason, as the loss of a running back has appeared to cause a chain reaction on offense.

Junior college transfer Ken Thomas, one of the program’s top performers in the spring, is off the team after having been ruled academically ineligible.

Quarterback Alfred “LA” Ramsby, a redshirt freshman, made the move to running back, and wide receiver Ezayi Youyoute moved to quarterback, a position he played under former coach Jeff Monken in 2011 and 2012. Vegas Harley has been moved to safety from quarterback.

Coach Willie Fritz wanted to have both Ramsby and Harley on the field as much as possible, leading to their position moves.

“We didn’t want to have these great athletes standing over on the sidelines,” he said.

Kevin Ellison, a sophomore who played in every game and topped the 100-yard rushing mark in four games, including a season-ending victory against the Florida Gators, remains atop the quarterbacks’ depth chart.

“He throws the ball better than I anticipated, and he’s really got a tremendous amount of explosion,” Fritz said about Ellison. “I always talk about a guy putting his foot in the ground and getting vertical, going north-south up the field. He does a great job of that.”

Favian Upshaw, a sophomore who transferred to GSU from Florida International in 2013, remains a contender at QB. He “may be the fastest guy on the team,” Fritz said.

The running back situation remains up in the air. Joining Ramsby at the spot are Ean Days and Matt Brieda, who are both recovering from injuries.

“Early in the season, I think we’re going to do running back by committee and see what those guys can do well,” Fritz said. “Then we’ll go ahead and start rationing out those repetitions based on productivity.”

The movement on the depth chart likely will continue throughout July and August, when the freshmen from the 2014 signing class will report for the first time. Fritz said there is the possibility each signee may play right away. Thomas was a mid-year signee, and Irwin County’s Ryan Peterson was the only running back signed on national signing day.

“We’re not into the redshirting business, especially going in to play (Football Bowl Subdivision) football,” he said.

Georgia Southern, which has moved into the Sun Belt Conference after 20 seasons in the Southern Conference and 30 years in I-AA/Football Championship Subdivision, opens the season Aug. 30 at N.C. State.

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