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Injuries hamper some Gwinnett grads in GSU spring game, offer opportunities for others

ATLANTA -- As much attention as was paid to the players who were on the field for Georgia State's Blue-White game that closed the team's spring football practice, Saturday's scrimmage was as much about dealing with the many players who weren't.

"No major injuries," first-year Panthers head coach Trent Miles said with a sigh of relief after the game. "I've lost a kid on the last play of the spring game (before), and he was an All-American who had to sit the whole season because of an ACL (tear). So, when you don't lose anybody and are able to come out and use it as an opportunity to get better ... you're going in the right direction."

Injuries have been a major factor for the Panthers throughout spring practice, particularly at wide receiver -- where rising senior standouts Albert Wilson and Danny Williams were held out to rest minor injuries, while Brookwood grad Nathaniel Minor suffered a torn knee ligament early this spring and will sit out the 2013 season -- and offensive line.

In fact, only eight offensive linemen were available Saturday, with such contributors as Grayson grad Harrison Clottey and Duluth grad Mark Ruskell unable to play.

However, Saturday's game did create opportunities for others to show what they could do, such as a pair of redshirt freshmen Gwinnett grads in Grayson's Garrett Gorringe at guard and Brookwood's Jah-Mai Davidson at tackle.

"I got a lot more reps than I probably would have having to split them between so many other guys," said the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Gorringe. "But all in all, you get the reps you earn. You work hard in practice and they're going to put you in.

"I worked as hard as possibly could, and I got some good feedback, along with some good criticism of what I need to improve on. So, I think I've got as much as a shot (to play) as anyone else."

And with both Clottey and Ruskell expected back by the time preseason practice begins in August, along with North Gwinnett senior Alex Stoehr joining the team as an incoming freshman during the summer, the GSU line could feature a heavy Gwinnett flavor in the future.

Recruiting drive

Saturday's scrimmage was also a big day for Miles to show off the direction of GSU's program to possible future Panthers.

More than 100 high school players were on hand and got a chance to be out on the Georgia Dome's floor before the game.

One of the more prominent members of that group was rising senior Parkview linebacker John Patterson, who already has a scholarship offer from GSU, according to some recruiting websites.

But he wasn't the only Gwinnett player taking in Saturday's game, with multiple players from Parkview, Brookwood, Collins Hill, Grayson and Shiloh seen among the group at the Dome.

Broadway-bound band

Georgia State's marching band will get a chance to perform on a national stage for the second time in its brief history.

An announcement was made at halftime of Saturday's scrimmage that the unit has been invited to perform at the 2014 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

"Georgia State University is honored that our marching band has been selected to march through the streets of New York City in on our nation's signature holiday parade, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," GSU president Mark Becker said during the announcement. "This achievement is recognition that the marching band, founded only three years ago, has quickly advanced from being a fledgling band to one worthy of the national stage. We are enormously proud of the staff and students who have put in countless hours of planning and practice to get the band to this point."

The band will be one of only 10 marching ensembles in the 2014 parade after it beat out more than 175 applicants nationwide.

Earlier this year, the GSU band earned another honor by being selected to perform at President Barack Obama's inauguration in Washington, D.C.