Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton sheds light on team’s future in speech to Savannah QB Club


SAVANNAH, G.a. (WSAV) – After Georgia Southern’s season-ending loss to rival Appalachian State on Saturday, the work now truly begins for head coach Clay Helton.

Helton took some time out of his schedule to speak to the Savannah Quarterback Club on Monday night. In his speech, Helton explained his vision for the Eagles program and answered questions from area supporters.

“I’ve got three children by birth and 120 (on a football team) that I get to adopt,” Helton said to a packed crowd at the Elks Lodge on Wilshire Blvd.

With his season over, Helton is in the process of recruiting – both future football players and a new staff. Helton chose to retain interim head coach Kevin Whitley, but let go of all the other on-field assistants.

Helton said that Whitley’s unique combination of qualities led him to believe the program would be better off if Whitley stayed.

“One, he’s an immense man of character, two he’s a developer of talent, he knows how to develop kids, he’s competent and knowledgeable enough to take them to the highest level,” Helton said. “Three, he’s got a care and concern for kids. He cares about them outside of the field, not just the Xs and Os.”

In his speech to the QB Club, Helton said that he hopes to have an offensive coordinator hired within the next two weeks and that he would like someone with passing game experience.

“Right now I think our running game is extremely strong…we’ll use that as a strength but one of the ways we need to be able to support that is to be explosive down the field,” Helton said.

There seems to be an expectation of more continuity on the defensive side of the ball. Helton expressed a desire to stay with the base 3-4 scheme that the Eagles had run under former head coach Chad Lunsford.

On top of recruiting staff, Helton is also recruiting future Eagles players, hosting roughly 20 prospects on campus for visits within the next two weeks.

During his introductory press conference, Georgia Southern’s new head coach asserted that he could get all the talent he needs for a championship program within a 300-mile radius from Statesboro.

Local prospects have treated Helton with similar levels of respect whenever he has visited their schools.

“We’ve been able to develop some relationships where you look up and you go ‘wow, that kid is going to Georgia Southern,'” Helton said.

“The reception that I have seen is that there’s such a pride about the university. Kids around the state of Georgia understand how special it is to go to Georgia Southern.”

Helton’s speech to the club emphasized how pleased he is to be in Statesboro. He got an especially warm reaction from the crowd when he recounted his first trip in a yellow school bus with Georgia Southern legends Adrian Peterson and Tracy Ham.

“I didn’t get too enamored with movie stars in Hollywood,” Helton said in reference to his time as head coach at USC. “But that gave me goosebumps.”

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