STATESBORO, Ga. — Georgia Southern’s new offensive coordinator Bryan Cook never overlooked Jaalon Frazier.
He didn’t arrive in Statesboro and suddenly ask himself “Who is this kid?”
He had his eye on the Liberty County star quarterback for longer than Frazier probably realizes.
“Over the past two years, this 2017 quarterback class in Georgia and in the Southeast, I’ve done a ton of homework on those guys,” Cook said Wednesday after Georgia Southern received Frazier’s letter of intent to play for the Eagles. “I knew where the bar was. I didn’t have him at camp, but just knowing the hard numbers on him and watching his film, I had a decent idea of what he was.”
When it comes to recruiting quarterbacks, Cook and head coach Tyson Summers both agreed it’s unusual to find a highly touted quarterback who is uncommitted going into his senior year.
Frazier exploded his senior season, torching defenses for 2,878 yards and 41 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,250 yards and 15 more scores. Georgia Southern offered him his first and only FBS scholarship on Jan. 23
His junior season, Frazier had only threw for only half of his 2016 amount, rushed for just 143 yards on the year and had just 12 total touchdowns.
“Had he been productive as a junior, it would have been a whole different story,” Cook said. “That’s the reality of recruiting nowadays, especially at quarterback. Somebody’s got to make decisions prior to their senior year, and then you’re obligated to them. The beauty in our niche is we can actually evaluate him his senior year and see truly what he is, so we know what we’re getting. I think that’s absolutely the case with him.
“Will he help us next fall? That’s yet to be seen, but when you can get your hands on a guy like that, take them.”
Georgia Southern’s 2017 recruiting class is a blend of recognized talent and a few diamonds in the rough. The Eagles are hoping Frazier fits the mold of the latter. The Savannah Morning News Offensive Player of the Year verbally committed to the Eagles on Sunday and signed his letter of intent during a ceremony Wednesday morning at Liberty County.
“Exactly what we were desiring and wanting to get from that position is exactly what Jaalon Frazier was,” Summers said during a signing day news conference Wednesday. “That’s why he was such an instrumental get for us. We’re not worried about how many other offers he had. If you turn on Jaalon Frazier’s tape, you’re not going to be worried. He’s a good fit for us.”
Frazier joins three other signees from the Coastal Empire who will suit up in blue and white next season: Benedictine teammates Wesley Kennedy and Chris Harris and Memorial Day’s Brian Miller. Kennedy can be used all over the field – out of the backfield and at receiver as well as special teams – while Harris will add to an already talented linebacker core. Miller was the last of Georgia Southern’s signees on Wednesday, the Eagles receiving his letter of intent shortly after noon.
“We went into it knowing the Savannah area had a lot of good players,” Summers said. “You’ve got a guy like Danny Britt and the job he’s done at Benedictine and the amount of success they’ve had over the last three years, and you’ve seen good players come out of there that are outstanding individuals. That does become a good piece.”
The Eagles signed 22 players for its 2017 class, which is ranked third in the Sun Belt by 247Sports. They had the top class from last year, based on the same rankings.
“I think the big piece of today was feeling needs at positions,” Summers said. “Obviously that starts with the quarterbacks. With Kado Brown, you’ve got a little more age and some game experience. Jaalon Frazier I felt was one of the best quarterbacks in our state. Quarterback from a depth standpoint and hitting the number that you want was important to us.”
Defensively, GS signed seven defensive linemen, four linebackers and two defensive backs.
Offensively, the outlook appeared bleak.
“We had a lot of work to do late,” Cook said. “More than typical. You just try to have an idea of what you’re looking for and go through the process, having an awareness of who’s out there.”
The Eagles had just two offensive linemen and one player at the skill positions verbally committed as little as 10 days ago. Since then, they landed Frazier and junior college quarterback Kado Brown and Kennedy. Running backs Logan Wright and Matthew LaRoche made their announcements to play for GS on signing day. They’ll join Grant Walker, who is arguably the signee with the most pedigree, having received offers from Appalachian State, Troy, Tulane and Southern Miss.
“Very similar in some regards to last year,” Summers said. “You wind up making up your mind early in the process. Are you going to take guys you feel like you can get for the sake of being able to get them sooner? Or are you willing to play the game later and hope for better players. That’s a dicey situation. We feel very fortunate that for two years in a row, we’ve been able to finish very strong and find the right players and fill the right needs at the same time.”
The coach added that uncertainty is just part of the game, and now that game is over for at least another year.
“You don’t feel good about any of it until right now,” he said. “We as a staff spent time on the phone with some guys past midnight trying to make sure, and some of them had been committed for over six months. You’re trying to make sure you’ve got your guys and that you don’t have any negative surprises on signing day.”