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Georgia State looks for future players in walk-on tryout

CLARKSTON - Few football teams totally answer any important questions during spring practice.

And Bill Curry certainly didn't expect to come up with any shocking discoveries during his first "spring practice" of sorts since taking charge of Georgia State's still developing football program.

Nonetheless, the veteran coach came away from Monday's walk-on tryout combine at Hallford Stadium in DeKalb County believing he and his staff may find more help to complement the Panthers' first signing class than he first thought possible when they ran the first such combine last fall.

"I'm really impressed with body control and ball skills," Curry said of those looking for a spot in the GSU program as a walk-on for its inaugural season in 2010. "There are more people that look like they can play football in this group than there were last time. ... So, I'm surprised and impressed. There are some guys out here who are going to play on Sept. 2, 2010."

And a few former Gwinnett high school players could be among that group to be the first to take the field wearing a Panthers uniform just less than 17 months from now.

Seven of the 42 hopefuls on the field at Hallford Stadium on Monday played their high school football in Gwinnett.

There was especially a Gwinnett flavor in a group of receivers and defensive backs that particularly impressed both Curry and George Pugh, the Panthers receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

"I'm kind of heartbroken that it (doesn't) start until a year from now," said former Berkmar receiver Victor Cephus, one of at least three ex-Gwinnett players - along with Meadowcreek's Jeffrey Flowers and Mill Creek's Emmanuel Ogbuchi - working out with the receivers Monday. "I think my chances (of making the team) are pretty good if I can stay in condition. I think a lot of us have a chance of making the team even with the (scholarship) players they're signing from high school."

It won't hurt the chances of Cephus and Flowers, in particular, that Pugh - a former coach at Meadowcreek who remembered both players coming up through their respective Lilburn neighborhoods - is a part of the GSU staff.

Pugh certain wasn't a difficult man to find during Monday's workouts. All one had to do was just keep an ear open.

In addition to his specific duties, he served as the practice's unofficial "enthusiasm coach," a role he relishes given how excited he is over helping start a brand new program.

"I love it," Pugh said. "And what happens is, the kids kind of feed off you (emotionally). If you come out all down and out, you're going to be the same way. You want to create that excitement and create that enthusiasm and ... hope it rubs off on the players."

GSU's spring combine will conclude Wednesday and the Panthers will begin their first season of practice this August, leading up to their debut in September 2010.

SideBar: Local Talent

Former Gwinnett high school players among those at Georgia State's spring walk-on tryout combine Monday at Hallford Stadium in Clarkston.

Name, School

Victor Cephus, Berkmar

Jeffrey Flowers, Meadowcreek

Kevin Jones, North Gwinnett

Kenneth Moon, Central Gwinnett

Emmanuel Ogbuchi, Mill Creek

Zach Ostrow, Parkview

Frank Spivey, Norcross