The Georgia Southern Eagles will take the practice field for the first time in almost four months on Tuesday for the kickoff of the spring season.

For head coach Clay Helton, it will be an early opportunity to see what his team might look like next season.

“This is really our opportunity to implement systems and our style of football,” Helton said. “I hope we look at the end of these five weeks and see that we’re a team that gives relentless effort.”

Helton will go into camp with the quarterback competition as wide open as ever, thanks in part to the absence of Justin Tomlin, who started seven games for the Eagles last year and would have been a redshirt senior this upcoming season.

Tomlin chose to forgo his final year of eligibility and graduate from the university.

“We had an honest conversation after the season based on where we were headed offensively and what his goals and aspirations were also,” Helton said. “He appreciated that honesty. At the end of the day, what I appreciate about JT is he has big picture aspirations.”

Georgia Southern has multiple options for the top quarterback position in Spring ball. Sophomore Cam Ransom has the most experience of any of them, playing in nine games and starting two. Redshirt sophomore Connor Cigelske is the only other quarterback on the roster that has playing experience with the Eagles.

On top of their returning arms, Georgia Southern snagged sixth-year senior Kyle Vantrease in the transfer portal from Buffalo. Freshmen David Dallas and Zak Rozsman round out the group along with sophomore transfer Richie Lankford.

“When you talk quarterback play…I’ve always thought it starts with the intangibles,” Helton said. “You’re the face of this program and you have to be an example of what an eagle is. Then you get into some of the mechanical things: decision-making, timing, accuracy, and the ability to produce. Are you moving the ball down the field?”

“Cam and Connor, I’ve been impressed with those guys,” said offensive coordinator Bryan Ellis. “The transition from what they’ve done in the past to what we’re doing here offensively is a little different, admittedly so. It goes back to their attitude, though. They want to be good. I haven’t seen a kid work as hard as Cam Ransom does.”

Helton will have plenty of returning talent to work with on the defensive side of the ball, specifically naming Todd Bradley-Glenn, Derrick Canteen and Dillon Springer as key returning pieces.

Helton also praised athletic director Jared Benko’s decision to make a head coaching hire in October instead of waiting for the end of the season in December, saying that many of the players that returned might not have done so if he hadn’t had the time to build relationships with them.

“If I’m hired December 7th, and I’m immediately hitting the ground running and I’m in homes trying to recruit freshmen, some of those guys may not be here because relationships won’t build. Honest one-on-one conversations won’t happen. So it was just as important to recruit those guys as it is the 16 newcomers that will be walking into this spring roster.”

Fans are welcome to attend any Georgia Southern practice or scrimmage leading up to the April 23 Spring Game, which will be televised on ESPN+. The program asks fans to not post videos or detailed information from practice sessions, including injury details.

SPRING SCHEDULE

MARCH 22: 4 p.m. practice (Paulson)
MARCH 24: 4 p.m. practice (Paulson)
MARCH 26: 11 a.m. practice (Paulson)

MARCH 29: 4:25 p.m. practice (Eagle Creek)
MARCH 31: 4 p.m. practice (Paulson)
APRIL 2: 3:15 p.m. scrimmage (Paulson)

APRIL 5: 4:25 p.m. practice (Eagle Creek)
APRIL 7: 4 p.m. practice (Paulson)
APRIL 9: 3:15 p.m. practice (Paulson)

APRIL 12: 4:25 p.m. practice (Eagle Creek)
APRIL 14: 4 p.m. practice (Paulson)
APRIL 16: 11 a.m. scrimmage (Paulson)

APRIL 19: 4:25 p.m. practice (Paulson)
APRIL 21: 4 p.m. practice (Paulson)
APRIL 23: 12 p.m. spring game (Paulson)