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The Georgia State Panthers football team is the college football program for Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. The Panthers football team was founded in 2010 and competes at the NCAA Division I FBS level. The team is a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

Georgia State Panthers football
2019 Georgia State Panthers football team
Georgia State Athletics wordmark.svg
First season2010
Athletic directorCharlie Cobb
Head coachShawn Elliott
3rd season, 9–15 (.375)
StadiumGeorgia State Stadium
(Capacity: 23,000)
NCAA divisionDivision I FBS
ConferenceSun Belt Conference
All-time record29–77 (.274)
Bowl record1–1 (.500)
RivalriesGeorgia Southern (rivalry)
ColorsBlue and White[1]
Fight songFight Panthers, Panther Pride



Bill Curry era (2010–2012)Edit

The crowd of 30,237 during the inaugural game against the Shorter University Hawks

In November 2006, a study commissioned by Georgia State was completed and submitted back to the school. It found Georgia State to be in a good position to begin a competitive football team, and based its remarks on the location and resources of the university. It estimated that total annual expenses by 2012 would be $3.1 million.

On April 15, 2007, former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves was hired by Georgia State as a consultant.[2]

On November 1, 2007, the university began discussing the possibility of adding football. It found that total costs would cost between $6.2 million and $33.8 million depending on several different factors, including whether a stadium would be built or a preexisting stadium would be used.[3]

On April 17, 2008, Georgia State launched its football program. On June 12, 2008, former Georgia Tech, Alabama, and Kentucky head coach Bill Curry was named as the Georgia State head coach, working on a 5-year contract.[4] This was followed by the hiring of John Bond as offensive coordinator, John Thompson as defensive coordinator, and George Pugh as assistant head coach, as well as Chris Ward and Anthony Midget.[5]

On November 20, 2008, ground was broken for a downtown practice facility at 188 Martin Luther King Drive. The facility would eventually be expanded to include a 100-yard artificial turf field and a 50-yard natural turf field. The existing buildings were converted into facilities and offices for the football team.[6]

On January 4, 2009, Mark Hogan, son of former Georgia Tech player Mark Hogan, Sr., enrolled to play as wide receiver on scholarship, making him the first football player to receive a scholarship from Georgia State.[7] The following month, the program signed its first recruiting class of 27 players, including the three-star running back Parris Lee.[8]

On February 25, 2009, Georgia State named Cheryl Levick as athletic director. Levick left leaving Maryland, where she had served as the school's executive senior athletic director.[9] By June 11, the CAA announced that they Georgia State was joining the conference and would officially begin CAA play during the 2012 season.[10]

The Panthers wouldn't play football until the 2010 season, and so the 2009 season was spent practicing at an NFL facility in downtown Atlanta. 71 players reported on August 14.[11]

Athletic director Cheryl Levick trades helmets with Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson at the Georgia Dome on April 9, 2012

Georgia State's second recruiting class was signed on February 3, 2010. The team would go on to hold spring practice beginning on March 23, and would begin working out at the new practice facility by March 27.

On September 2, Georgia State played its first football game and home opener against the Shorter Hawks, winning the game 41–7. The first touchdown was recorded by Parris Lee. A crowd of 30,237 was present at the Georgia Dome including then Georgia governor Sonny Perdue, former mayor Andrew Young, amongst other dignitaries.[12] Later during the last game of the season on November 18, Georgia State would play FBS defending national champion and number 10 ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, losing 63–7. The single touchdown was earned during a kick return by Albert Wilson.[13] Georgia State would finish its inaugural year with a 6–5 record.

During its second year of play, the Panthers would record a 3–8 record.[14] The season would be marked by a constant shuffle of quarterbacks after the 2009 starter Drew Little was suspended for the first four games and the second-string quarterback Kelton Hill was arrested prior to the season opener, leaving the punter, Bo Schlecter as starting quarterback.[15]

The 2012 season marked the last with Bill Curry as head coach as he had stated that he would retire after the end of the season. Throughout the season, the Panthers were plagued with inconsistencies on both the offense and defense, made worse by injuries on either side and inexperienced quarterbacks.[16] Curry would end his final season (and only year in the CAA) with a 1–10 record. The Panthers were not eligible for a post season berth (through neither the conference's automatic bid nor an at large bid) due to their reclassifying status as the team prepared to move up to FBS football in the Sun Belt Conference. This reclassifying status did allow for the Panthers to use more scholarships than the allowed 63 scholarships at the FCS level.[17] On opening day Matt Hubbard surpassed the NCAA record for highest punting average in a single game, but it would end up not counting in the record books due to the reclassification.

Georgia State officially announced that it would join the Sun Belt Conference on April 9, 2012, during a press conference at the Georgia Dome. The school began full membership on July 1, 2013. Georgia State was a founding member of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976.[18] The Sun Belt participates in Division I FBS, as opposed to FCS. The Panthers were not eligible for postseason play until the 2014 season.[19]

Trent Miles era (2013–2016)Edit

After Coach Bill Curry announced his retirement in August,[20] the administration hired Parker Executive Search to help find potential candidates.[21] On November 30, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the university had hired Trent Miles, head coach of Indiana State University.[22]

With Trent Miles' arrival as new head coach came the Panthers first complete change in uniform since the programs inception. The original uniform consisted solely of 2 different outfits; a blue home jersey with Panthers written across the chest above the player number and two white stripes on each arm; and a white away jersey with similar stylings, but with Georgia State written across the chest. Only a single helmet existed, blue and with the secondary GSU emblem on it. Both uniforms used the same white pants with panther heads on them.[23] Initially, an anthracite colored helmet with "Panthers" written in stylized script across the sides was unveiled in April 2013, drawing criticism from fans due to its use of a non-school color and lack of GSU emblem.[24] However, after a two-day-long social media event that had fans unravelling parts of a "puzzle", Miles' altered uniforms were unveiled, showing up to 12 possible variations. Two different jerseys were shown, a blue home jersey with white numbers and lettering and a white away jersey with blue numbers and lettering. Both uniforms included numbering on the sleeves and player names on the back. The uniforms also included three sets of pants, one pair copying the original whites, a blue pair, and an anthracite pair.[25] Along with these changes, it was announced that the original blue helmet with the GSU insignia on it would still be available as a part of the uniform and would be worn at homecoming.[26] Before each game, the seniors and captains decided which combination will be worn that week.[26] The uniforms drew praise from Atlanta area fashion professionals, who cited it as "a modern take on a classic style."[27]

During his tenure as head coach, Miles would oversee the transition of football from the FCS to the FBS, the highest level of football in the NCAA as members of the Sun Belt conference. With this move came a significant increase in opposition quality, as well as an increase in the number of scholarships available for the team. During the transition year from FCS to FBS, and the first year in which Miles coached, the Panthers would achieve zero wins, accruing a final record of 0-12, 0-7 in conference. While the following year would mark only a single win against the lone FCS opponent, the 2015 season would end with a 6-7 record, 5-3 in the Sun Belt and a loss at the Panthers' first bowl game, the Cure Bowl. The 2016 season would see only three wins, and after the 10th game, Miles was relieved from duty as head coach, leaving Lappano as interim head coach for the final two games.[28]

Shawn Elliott era (2017–present)Edit

On December 8, 2016, South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott accepted the head coaching position at Georgia State, causing the Panthers to start the 2017 season with a new head coach and in the newly acquired Georgia State Stadium.[29] Elliott had coached under Steve Spurrier and Will Muschamp in Columbia and had served as the Gamecocks interim head coach between Spurrier's resignation and Muschamp's hiring.[30] Elliott signed a five-year contract with Georgia State that paid him a base salary of $515,000 annually.[31]

The Panthers finished 7–5 in 2017.[32] They began the season on a sour note; dropping a 17-10 game to FCS opponent Tennessee State[33] and a 56-0 shutout to #5 Penn State.[34] Elliott's team won its first game of the season in their third contest, defeating Charlotte by a shutout score of 28-0.[35] Georgia State was scheduled to play Memphis on September 30, but due to the Tigers having to reschedule American Athletic Conference opponent UCF for September 30 due to Hurricane Irma, the game between the Tigers and Panthers was canceled.[36] On October 7, Georgia State defeated Coastal Carolina by a margin of 27-21.[37] They earned their third straight win on October 14 with a 47-37 victory over Louisiana-Monroe, a game in which the offense set a school record with 670 total yards.[38] After a 34-10 loss to Troy,[39] the Panthers won their next three; defeating South Alabama by a margin of 21-13,[40] archrival Georgia Southern by a score of 21-17[41] and Texas State by a margin of 33-30.[42] Georgia State closed the regular season with a 31-10 loss to Appalachian State[43] and a 24-10 loss to Idaho.[44] The Panthers accepted a berth in the 2017 Cure Bowl, a game they won over Western Kentucky by a score of 27-17.[45]

Conference affiliationsEdit

Head coachesEdit

Former head coach Trent Miles

Bill CurryEdit

Georgia State's first head coach Bill Curry was the initial architect for the program. His tenure ended with a record of 10–23. Initially hired by the former athletics director Mary McElroy, after her termination by previous Georgia State president Carl Patton, Curry was named interim athletic director while the school searched for a new AD.[46] During his tenure as head coach, Curry saw the program grow from an idea into a fully fledged division I – FCS team. He also was present for the beginning of the transition from the football championship subdivision (FCS) to the football bowl subdivision (FBS) as the school changed athletics conferences from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Sun Belt Conference.[47] While Georgia State built the foundations for its football program with him at its helm, including new practice facilities and offices, Curry's teams experienced little success on the field. After a 6–5 record in its first season, the Panthers followed with a 3–8 record in its second season, and finally closing with a 1–10 record in his final year. However, the university honored its founding head coach by naming the locker rooms at the new football practice facility after Curry.[48]

Trent MilesEdit

On November 30, 2012, former Indiana State head coach Trent Miles was announced as the new Georgia State head coach.[49][50] Miles had previously coached his alma mater Indiana State, taking a team that had won one game in its previous three years to being ranked #18 at the end of his final season as head coach there.[51] Miles took over a similar situation at Georgia State, which had won only four of its own games in the previous two seasons and was moving to the FBS after only three seasons of existing as a program.[52][53] During his first season at GSU, the Panthers won no games, and only one in his second season. However, during his third season as head coach, after accruing a record of 2–6, the Panthers would win their final four games, including a 34–7 defeat of in-state rivals Georgia Southern to a record of 6–6 and their first bowl game.[54] The Panthers would fall at the Cure Bowl to San Jose State, 16–27.[55] With a final record of 6–7, Miles would mirror almost exactly the turn-around that he had achieved at Indiana State, with both teams winning no games in their first season, one game in their second, and six games in their third. On November 12, 2016 after losing to conference foe ULM, it was reported that Trent Miles was fired, leaving with a career record of 9–38 at Georgia State.[56]

Shawn ElliottEdit

On December 9, 2016, Georgia State announced that it had hired former South Carolina co-offensive coordinator (2012–15), interim head coach (2015), and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott to lead the Panthers as head coach.[57] His first recruiting class, shortened due to his late arrival at Georgia State, would be the highest ranked in school history according to rankings by ESPN and 247Sports.[58][59]

Bowl gamesEdit

The Panthers have played in two bowl games. They have a 1–1 record.

Date Coach Bowl Opponent Result
December 19, 2015 Trent Miles Cure Bowl San Jose State L 16–27
December 16, 2017 Shawn Elliott Cure Bowl Western Kentucky W 27–17


Georgia SouthernEdit

Georgia Southern and Georgia State have only competed against each other in football since 2014. They played annually in basketball from the 1971–72 to 1980–81 seasons, 1995–96 and 1996–97, and 2009–10 to 2013–14 out-of-conference and as conference mates from the 1985–86 to 1991–92 seasons (in the Trans America Athletic Conference, which is now the Atlantic Sun Conference) and since the 2014–15 season in the Sun Belt Conference.[60][61] As of 2017, Georgia Southern has a 35–18 lead in the all-time series.[61]

Since both schools can be abbreviated GSU, a point of conflict between the two schools is that both fan-bases claim that their university is, in fact, the real GSU. Georgia State lays claim to the initials as it became a university (and therefore GSU) long before Georgia Southern did in 1990 (Georgia State became a university in 1969).[62][63] Also, Georgia State's URL and official logo both contain the abbreviation.[64] Georgia Southern officially uses GS in all of its branding.[65] Georgia Southern, on the other hand, has a more extensive history of football than Georgia State, restarting its program in 1981 and winning six national championships at the FCS level.[66]

The football rivalry began after the hire of former Appalachian State (a major rival of Georgia Southern) athletic director Charlie Cobb to the same position at GSU. During Georgia State's press release introducing Cobb, he revealed that Georgia Southern's athletic director Tom Kleinlein told him "welcome, now the war is on."[67] The two teams met on the gridiron during the 2014 football season at the Georgia Dome. During the run up to the game, fans from both teams expressed their dislike for the other over social media outlets such as Twitter, at times trending with tags of "SouthernNotState" and "StateNotSouthern," both of which were used as slogans for shirts given out by both universities.[68] During the period before the game, fans dubbed the matchup as "Modern Day Hate," a play on the rivalry between Georgia Tech and UGA, Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.[69] Georgia Southern beat Georgia State by a final score of 69–31, while drawing the second largest crowd of 28,427 for any Georgia State game.[70] In 2015, Georgia State beat Georgia Southern 34–7 to give the worst home defeat for Georgia Southern in school history.[71][72] Currently, Georgia State leads Georgia Southern, 3-1.

While GSU already had a history with Georgia Southern before the emergence of football, the schools entry into the Sun Belt Conference would start an intense football rivalry. After the first season of play between the two teams in 2014 with Georgia Southern beating Georgia State 69-31, it was agreed by both universities athletic departments to introduce a rivalry series, with points allocated for each sport played between the two schools. Georgia State would win the first and second years of the rivalry series, with the Panthers beating the Eagles on the gridiron in 2015 34-7, the win granting bowl eligibility, and again in 2016, 30-24.


Georgia DomeEdit

From the program's inception in 2010 until the 2016 season, the Georgia State Panthers played home games in the Georgia Dome, located just north of the Georgia State main campus in Downtown Atlanta. It was the largest cable-supported domed stadium in the world and had a football capacity of 71,228.[73] The regular capacity for GSU football games was 28,155 (the capacity of the lower bowl),[74] however, the middle and upper bowls could be filled as overflow when necessary[75] as has occurred twice [76][77] since the program's inception. The Georgia Dome was closed on March 5, 2017 and demolished on November 20, 2017; the Dome's replacement, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, officially opened on August 26, 2017.

Georgia State StadiumEdit

Georgia State began hosting its home games at Georgia State Stadium during the 2017 season. Originally built for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games as Centennial Olympic Stadium, the stadium was converted from Turner Field, a baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves, to a college football stadium. The initial phase of conversion took place between March and August 2017, and saw the removal of several sections of the lower bowl stands from right field and a new east side grandstand built to enclose the new football field. On August 8, it was announced that the field would be named Parker H. Petit Field after a major donor with the donation of $10 million.[78] Several more stages of construction will follow after the 2017 season, including removing more lower bowl seating from the remaining right field, and additional facilities added to the upper bowl, including bathroom renovations and concessions.

Georgia State Stadium boasts the 8th-largest video board in college football, with a 71 x 79 foot span and an area of 5,600 square feet.[79] The current capacity of the stadium as of the 2017 season is 25,000, although this is due to change with future phases of renovation.[80] The field uses synthetic FieldTurf rather than field grass.[81]

Practice facilityEdit

Groundbreaking of a new on-campus practice facility occurred on November 20, 2008, approximately 2 years before the Panthers would play their first official game.[82][83] The building (located at 188 Martin Luther King Drive, Atlanta) was originally used as a warehouse for the Confederate Army during the civil war.[82] The first practice was held on March 29, 2010.[82] The facility is composed of a 120-yard artificial-turf field, a 60-yard natural-turf field, and a 22,00-square-foot practice building.[84] The building contains a 1,507 square-foot meeting room, a 450 square-foot conference room, a 2,544 square foot locker room (named for the Panthers first football coach, Bill Curry)[85] a 1,570 square-foot equipment room, a 2,144 square foot training room, and a 365 square foot hydro therapy room.[86]


Single-Game HighsEdit

  • Rushing Yards – 201 by Donald Russell vs. Rhode Island, 2012
  • Rushing Attempts – 27 by Marcus Caffey vs. Louisiana, 2012
  • Rushing Touchdowns – 3 by Marcus Caffey vs. Louisiana, 2014
  • Receiving Yards – 190 by Penny Hart vs. ULM, 2017
  • Receptions – 11, tied thrice, all by Penny Hart, vs. ULM, 2017, vs. New Mexico State, 2015, and vs. Charlotte, 2017
  • Receiving Touchdowns – 4 by Donovan Harden vs. Georgia Southern, 2014
  • Passing Yards – 471 by Nick Arbuckle vs. Texas State, 2015
  • Pass Attempts – 53 by Drew Little vs. Old Dominion, 2010
  • Pass Completions – 32 by Nick Arbuckle vs. Texas State, 2014
  • Completion Percentage – .800, going 12-15, by Kelton Hill vs. South Alabama, 2011
  • Touchdown Passes – 4, tied nine ways, once by Conner Manning vs. ULM, 2017, four times by Nick Arbuckle vs. Texas State, 2015, vs. Abilene Christian, 2014, vs. Georgia Southern, 2014, vs. Texas State, 2014, once by Ronnie Bell, vs. Troy, 2013, once by Kelton Hill, vs. Campbell, 2011, and twice by Drew Little, vs. Morehead State, 2010, and vs. Savannah State, 2010.
  • Total Offensive Yards – 496, by Nick Arbuckle vs. Texas State, 2015
  • Touchdowns Scored – 4, by Donovan Harden vs. Georgia Southern, 2014
  • Points by Kicking – 13, by Ian Vance vs. Savannah State, 2010
  • Field Goals – 4, by Brandon Wright vs. Texas State, 2017
  • PAT – 7, by Ian Vance vs Savannah State, 2010
  • Punts – 10, tied four ways, all by Matt Hubbard, vs. Old Dominion, 2011, vs. Houston, 2011, vs. Troy, 2013, vs. West Virginia, 2013
  • Punting Yards – 406, by Matt Hubbard vs. Old Dominion, 2011
  • Punting Yards Average (of at least 3 punts) – 62.2 on five, by Matt Hubbard, vs. South Carolina State, 2012
  • Kickoff Returns – 7, by Avery Sweeting vs. Abilene Christian, 2014
  • Kickoff Returning Yards – 176, by Albert Wilson vs. Villanova, 2012
  • Punt Returns – 7, by Albert Wilson vs. Old Dominion, 2011
  • Punt Return Yards – 85, by Albert Wilson vs. Old Dominion, 2011
  • All-Purpose Yards – 296, by Albert Wilson vs. Old Dominion, 2012
  • Tackles – 17, by Tarris Batiste vs. Liberty, 2015
  • Tackles for Loss – 4, tied four ways, by Michael Shaw vs. ULM, 2016, by Alonzo McGee vs. Charlotte, 2015, by Jake Muasau vs. UTSA, 2011, by Jarrell Robinson vs. Abilene Christian, 2014
  • Sacks – 3, by Jake Muasau vs. Lambuth, 2010
  • Interceptions – 2, tied seven ways, by B.J. Clay vs. UT Martin, 2016, by Jerome Smith vs. Ball State, 2016, by Tarris Batiste vs. Georgia Southern, 2015, by Bobby Baker vs. Charlotte, 2015, by D'Mario Gunn vs. Murray State, 2011, by Demazio Skelton vs. Old Dominion, 2012, and by Bryan Williams vs. Charlotte, 2017.
  • Interception Return Yards – 73 by D'Mario Gunn vs. Old Dominion, 2012

Team RecordsEdit


  • Points Scored – 55 vs. Savannah State, 2010
  • Points Scored in a Half – 34 in the first half vs. Savannah State, 2010
  • Points Scored in a Quarter – 24 in the second quarter vs. Texas State, 2016
  • Margin of Victory – 34, tied four ways, vs. Shorter, 2010, vs. Savannah State, 2010, vs. Clark Atlanta, 2011, vs. Rhode Island, 2012
  • Total Offensive Yards – 670 vs. ULM, 2017
  • Total Rushing Yards – 301 vs. Campbell, 2011
  • Total Passing Yards – 471 vs. Texas State, 2015


  • Fewest Points Allowed – 0 vs. Charlotte, 2017
  • Fewest Yards Allowed – 203 vs. Georgia Southern, 2015
  • Fewest Rushing Yards Allowed – -2 vs. Western Kentucky, 2017
  • Fewest Passing Yards Allowed – 47 vs. Georgia Southern, 2014

Longest PlaysEdit

  • Longest Play from Scrimmage – 93 yard pass to Albert Wilson from Ben McLane vs. Old Dominion for a touchdown, 2012
  • Longest Pass Play – 93 yards to Albert Wilson from Ben McLane vs. Old Dominion for a touchdown, 2012
  • Longest Run – 80 yards by Albert Wilson for a touchdown vs. Arkansas State, 2013
  • Longest Punt Return – 62 yards by Albert Wilson vs. South Alabama, 2013
  • Longest Kickoff Return – 100 yards, tied twice, by Marquan Greene vs. Arkansas State, 2015, and by Albert Wilson vs Old Dominion, 2012, both for touchdowns
  • Longest Interception Return – 73 yards by D'Mario Gunn vs. Old Dominion, 2012
  • Longest Fumble Return – 93 yards by Demazio Skelton vs. Old Dominion, 2011
  • Longest Field Goal – 53 yards by Wil Lutz vs. Alabama, 2013
  • Longest Punt – 80 yards, tied twice by Matt Hubbard, vs. Jacksonville State, 2013, and vs. South Carolina State, 2012
  • Longest Drive – 97 yards, tied twice, vs. UTSA over 8 plays in 2011, and vs. New Mexico State, over 6 plays, 2015

Career LeadersEdit

  • Rushing Yards – Travis Evans, 1,500
  • Rushing Touchdowns – Donald Russell, 12
  • Passing Yards – Nick Arbuckle, 7,651
  • Pass Attempts – Nick Arbuckle, 915
  • Pass Completions – Nick Arbuckle, 566
  • Touchdown Passes – Nick Arbuckle, 51
  • Total Offense – Nick Arbuckle, 7,566
  • Receiving Yards – Robert Davis, 3,391
  • Receptions – Robert Davis, 222
  • Touchdown Receptions – Albert Wilson, 23
  • Kickoff Return Yards – Albert Wilson, 2,338
  • Punt Return Yards – Albert Wilson, 376
  • All Purpose Yards – Albert Wilson, 6,235
  • Touchdowns – Albert Wilson, 26
  • Points – Wil Lutz, 213
  • Filed Goals – Wil Lutz, 31
  • PAT – Wil Lutz, 120
  • Punts – Matt Hubbard, 214
  • Punting Average – Wil Lutz, 42.84
  • Tackles – Joseph Peterson, 381
  • Interceptions – Chandon Sullivan, 6
  • Interception Return Yards – D'Mario Gunn, 77
  • Sacks – Christo Bilukidi, 9
  • Tackles for Loss – Joseph Peterson, 22
  • Fumbles Forced – Tied three ways at 4, by Jake Muasau, Brent McClendon, and Mackendy Cheridor
  • Fumbles Recovered – Bobby Baker, 5
  • Games Played – Tied two ways at 49, by Robert Davis and Jalen Lawrence

NFL Players of NoteEdit

Future non-conference opponentsEdit

As of June 7, 2019, the Panthers' future non-conference opponents include:[87]

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027
at Tennessee vs Murray State vs Army at South Carolina at Charlotte vs Vanderbilt vs Memphis at East Carolina
vs Furman at Alabama at North Carolina vs North Carolina at LSU at Vanderbilt
at Western Michigan at Charlotte vs Charlotte vs Charlotte
vs Army vs East Carolina at Auburn at Army


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