Georgia State Football: Game Week at Last as Panthers Host Kennesaw State Thursday


Thursday, Aug. 30, 7 p.m., Georgia State Stadium


TV: ESPN+. Announcers are Matt Stewart and Wayne Gandy.


RADIO: The new home for Georgia State football is Atlanta’s 92.9 THE GAME (WZGC-FM) and News & Talk 1380 (WAOK-AM). Dave Cohen is in his 36th season as the play-by-play voice of Panther athletics. Harper LeBel joins him from the booth with Sam Crenshaw on the sideline.


The GSU-KSU game will air on News & Talk 1380 (WAOK-AM), WRAS 88.5-FM and WGTJ-FM 97.9 /1330 AM.


Free audio stream on and GSU mobile app.



Georgia State: 7-5 Overall, 5-3 Sun Belt (4th); d. WKU 27-17 in AutoNation Cure Bowl

KSU: 12-2 Overall, 5-0 Big South (1st); FCS Quarterfinals


SERIES: First Meeting



Record at GSU: 7-5 (2nd year) / Career: 8-10 (3rd year)



Record at KSU: 26-10 (4th year) / Career: 26-10 (4th year)


Georgia State opens its ninth season of football by hosting Atlanta-area neighbor Kennesaw State in a Thursday night game at Georgia State Stadium.


> The Panthers look to build on the momentum of their successful 2017 season, when head coach Shawn Elliott took over the program and led the Panthers to their first winning season at the FBS level with a 7-5 record, capped by their first bowl game victory, a 27-17 win over Western Kentucky in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.


> The 2018 Panthers feature one of the nation’s most prolific receivers in junior Penny Hart, a Preseason All-American who led the Sun Belt Conference in 2017 with a school-record 74 receptions for 1,121 yards and eight touchdowns.


> Hart ranks first among all active FBS receivers in career receiving yards (2,281), second in TD receptions (17) and fifth in receptions (153).


> The Owls, an FCS quarterfinalist in 2017, are ranked No. 5 in the FCS preseason poll. Kennesaw State is also a new program that began playing in 2015.


> The distance between Georgia State Stadium and KSU’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium is just 25 miles.


> The Panthers have a 6-1 record against teams from the state of Georgia, including a 3-1 mark vs. Georgia Southern and wins over Savannah State, Shorter and Clark Atlanta.


> Junior receiver Penny Hart, junior linebacker Ed Curney, junior quarterback Aaron Winchester and senior cornerback Jerome Smith have been elected permanent team captains for 2018.


GSU-KSU CONNECTIONS: The  Georgia State-Kennesaw State matchup is particularly meaningful for the Paxton family, which features players on both sides.


Georgia State’s starting center is senior Jamal Paxton. His younger brother, Terrell, is a true freshman offensive lineman for the Owls. Both Paxton brothers will wear No. 50.


The oldest son of Nathaniel and Hnede Paxton will also be on the sideline. Nate Paxton was a defensive lineman for the Panthers from 2012-15, and he is now a graduate assistant on the GSU staff.


> Both teams have players who have transferred from the other school:

GSU: QB Jaquez Parks (redshirted at KSU in 2014), LB Warren McWilliams (played on special teams in KSU inaugural season of 2015).

KSU: LB Charlie Patrick (GSU 2016-17); LB Peyton Moore (redshirted at GSU in 2016)


> KSU linebackers coach P.J. Volker spent four years on the Panthers’ staff (2013-16).


UNDER CENTER: Georgia State’s biggest question mark entering the season is at quarterback, where the Panthers must replace two-year starter Conner Manning.


Manning, the MVP of the AutoNation Cure Bowl, passed for 5,830 yards and 30 touchdowns in his two seasons. He is now a high school coach at Mount Vernon Christian Academy in Atlanta. The candidates to replace Manning:


Aaron Winchester (R-Jr., Lawrenceville, Ga., Mount Pisgah Christian) – Manning’s backup the last two seasons … Started two games in 2016 when Manning was injured … 30-54 for 373 yards and two TD passes, along with 283 yards and one TD rushing, in 12 career games.


Dan Ellington (Jr., Olive Branch, Miss., Itawamba CC) – NJCAA second-team All-American … Passed for 3,211 yards and 27 TDs in 2017 … Second in NJCAA with 356.8 passing yards per game and fifth in TD passes … Completed 65 percent (230-353) with seven interceptions….Rushed for 392 yards and eight TDs.


WEEKDAY GAMES: For the ninth time in nine seasons of football, Georgia State is opening the season at home on a weekday. This will be the Panthers’ fourth Thursday opener, along with four Friday openers and one Wednesday. The season opener is one of four non-Saturday games for the Panthers this season. In its history, Gsu is 5-7 in all non-Saturday games, including last year’s Thursday night victory over South Alabama.



> Junior receiver Penny Hart, junior linebacker Ed Curney, junior quarterback Aaron Winchester and senior cornerback Jerome Smith have been elected permanent team captains for 2018.

> Georgia State’s roster includes 30 true freshmen and 15 redshirt freshmen. Add seven true sophomores, and that’s 52 first or second-year players.

> Conversely, the Panthers have 15 seniors, including just three fifth-year seniors who have spent their entire career at GSU.

> Georgia State’s pregame depth chart includes 17 true or redshirt freshmen, and many other rookies could appear on special teams.

> Among the true freshman expected to see the most significant playing time are running back Seth Paige, receiver Cornelius McCoy, cornerback Quavian White and noseguard Akeem Smith.


OLD AND YOUNG ON THE O-LINE: Georgia State returns four starters on the offensive line in seniors Gabe Mobley at right guard and Jamal Paxton at center, junior left tackle Hunter Atkinson and sophomore left guard Shamarious Gilmore. That quartet has combined for 81 career starts, led by Mobley with 25 and Atkinson with 24. The fifth starter is senior Lucas Johnson, who started three games last year.


Behind the experience of the starters is nothing but youth. After the first five, Georgia State’s other eight offensive linemen are all true freshmen or redshirt freshman.





ALLISON GEORGE | Assistant AD – Communications | Georgia State University
Georgia State Stadium, 755 Hank Aaron Drive, Atlanta, GA 30315
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