Ethan Smith, Staff Writer
The 2017 Georgia Southern University (GSU) Eagles Football team landed in Savannah for Fan Fest at Armstrong State University (ASU) on Friday, August 18th. ASU students and faculty, Savannah locals, and GSU students and alumni attended the event that kicked off with a scrimmage game as Georgia Southern players and coaches prepare for the 2017 NCAA Division I college football season.
GSU is coming out of an up and down 2016 season as a school in the Sun Belt Conference, with a subpar record of 5-7(4-4), however their performance did not translate to their record. The Eagles started 3-0, with victories over Savannah State, South Alabama, and UL Monroe. After three consecutive wins the Eagles lost to Western Michigan 49-31, Arkansas State 27-26, and ACC power Georgia Tech 35-24. Those losses dropped the team to 3-3(2-1) at the season’s midpoint.
The Eagles finally got back in the win column against New Mexico State 22-19, and they’d go on their second losing streak of the season by losing four times in a row to Appalachian State 34-10, SEC power Ole Miss 37-27, Louisiana 33-26, and Georgia State 30-24. The Eagles won against Troy to end the season, but due to a 5-7(4-4) record, they did not qualify for a bowl game.
Looking ahead, GSU plays many powerhouse teams again, the first big game being at Auburn on September 2nd. The game will air on SEC Network.
The GSU Southern Pride Band, the GSU Cheerleaders, Gus the Mascot, and Freedom, GSU’s bald eagle, also made appearances.
Georgia Southern’s athletic director, Tom Kleinlein, intends to include the Armstrong campus in sports events in the future. “There is some work required to … get these facilities to Division 1 standards [for football], but things like soccer games … and volleyball matches … will be played here in the very near future.”
Students can expect the Savannah campus to be included in the sports scene of Georgia Southern, but it will be a slow transition because of usability of the Armstrong campus and the costs to improve the grounds to be suitable for heavier sports.
Kleinlein gives Armstrong sports fans something to look forward to, saying, “We will do a lot more fan events and fan watch parties and those kind of things.”
Once the scrimmage ended, players and coaches set up for pictures and autographs, and many students from both ASU and GSU stayed around for Fan Fest, an after-party with perks like prizes and inflatables. The prizes included t-shirts, raffles for athletic wear, and game packages and were open to all in attendance.
Georgia Southern’s head football coach, Tyson Summers, was impressed with the turnout for the event. “We have a really good crowd and we are very excited about how many people from Savannah and from Armstrong State came out to support us. We are very appreciative of being able to come over here.”
Further, all of the players had great things to say about the consolidation, coming to Savannah, and the possibility of more sports being included on the Armstrong campus.
Senior receiver at Georgia Southern and finance major, Myles Campbell, said, “We had a great environment and a very good turnout and it was a great practice today. Savannah is a place that I love too. It’s a great environment, a great community, and a lot of our fans are here.”
Senior linebacker at Georgia Southern and marketing major, Chris DeLaRosa, said, “I’m really excited about [the merger]. It was really exciting coming out here today. We had great weather and I love Savannah as a city and I think we had a great turnout.”
After meeting some of the fans in attendance, DeLaRosa also said, “I’m excited to go out here and meet with the fans some more, maybe get in the bounce house and just have some fun.”
Others in attendance were excited to see the scrimmage and meet the football players. Armstrong students got to get a feel for some of Georgia Southern’s game traditions and are looking forward to attending Georgia Southern football games in the future.
Armstrong students have their first chance to support the Eagles as a true part of Georgia Southern University on Sep. 9 when GSU plays their first home game against New Hampshire. Check out the Georgia Southern Twitter page, @GSAthletics_FB, and use the hashtag #GATA to show your support for GSU football this upcoming season!