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Eagles receivers have to catch on to blocking
showers td 1
Georgia Southerns Kentrellis Showers, here pulling in a TD pass against Old Dominion in the FCS playoffs, led the Eagles wide receivers in receptions and receiving touchdowns in 2011. But he had to learn block before he became a top receiving target. - photo by File photo

At the top of Georgia Southern’s depth chart at the wide receiver position are four players who know how to block.

In Jeff Monken’s option offense, if you can’t, you won’t play.

"Probably a lot of guys may think, ‘Well, I’m a good enough receiver. They might throw it more because of me,’" said Monken, now entering his third year as GSU’s head coach. "The bottom line is that our philosophy is we want to run the football and be good at that."

Kentrellis Showers, who walked onto the team in 2010 and sat through a redshirt freshman season, didn’t know the first thing about throwing a block, much less a cut block, when he arrived in Statesboro. He figured out quickly from Mitch Williford and Patrick Barker — both seniors heading into 2012 — he’d better learn.

"When I came in," Showers said, "I was like, ‘Man, I can’t block. I’m small and I can’t block.’ But those guys talked me through it and pushed me. Now, we work so hard when the plays come our way, we make those plays. We like to call ourselves the playmakers out there, because sometimes when we can cut a guy down, it can be a key block. That’s the way we look at it."

Showers didn’t catch a lot of passes as a freshman in 2011, but his 15 receptions and three touchdowns led all GSU wide receivers.

Showers and Zach Walker, who was also a freshman in 2011, made their catches count. They each averaged more than 17 yards per reception. Meanwhile, Williford and Barker, who were recruited to GSU to play in Chris Hatcher’s pass-heavy offense in 2009, started the bulk of last season’s games.

"They transitioned from that offense where it was pass routes and catching the ball," said Monken, "to, ‘You’re going to need to block most of the time, be physical, completely humble yourself and be unselfish for the team.’"

Williford and Barker had a lot to learn in 2010, too.

"We had no idea what we were doing," Barker said. "People were just running into each other out there. This year we just have to fine-tune things, and it’s awesome to see how far along we are."

All four receivers on the two-deep played in at least 12 games in 2011, and Monken added that he has been impressed by freshmen Montay Crockett and B.J. Johnson, a 2011 recruit who grayshirted and joined the Eagles in January.

"They know if they do their job on the perimeter and we’re successful running the ball," Monken said, "they know it will open up opportunities for them."