Summers talks football, coming home in Tifton return

Summers talks football, coming home in Tifton return

TIFTON, GA (WALB) - There's always one place you can go to refresh and recharge the batteries: home.

Georgia Southern head coach Tyson Summers got a chance to do just that Wednesday night, returning to his hometown of Tifton to speak to Eagle fans and alumni.

"I've got a lot of support here. There's a lot of Georgia Southern Eagles here," Summers says. "Walking around, it's neat to be able to see people you've had in your life for so many years and people that are so excited about Georgia Southern all at the same time."

Tifton was the 8th stop on the annual Georgia Southern Coaches Caravan tour. Summers says he's happy to see support for the athletic programs at Georgia Southern continue throughout the southeast United States.

Summers' first season in Statesboro was not great. Even he'll tell you that. The Eagles started 3-0, but lost seven of their last nine games to finish 5-7 and one win short of a second straight bowl berth.

The former Tift County Blue Devil says looking back at the 2016 season taught him some things about being a head coach.

"I think the biggest thing for me was just trying to do so much. I was trying to cross every T and dot every I in 600 hundred different avenues and roads," he admits. "That's not what I need to be. I need to be making sure that our assistant coaches are doing a good job, that I'm hiring the right people around me, and that the core values of what we want to do with our coaches and our student-athletes are being met."

Summers says this offseason gave him a chance to see the mistakes he made, and what he needed to do to correct those mistakes. Part of that process was firing co-offensive coordinators David Dean and Rance Gillespie.

The Eagles are somewhat turning back to their triple option roots in 2017, hiring former Georgia Tech assistant coach Bryan Cook as the team's new offensive coordinator. Summers says Cook will lead the Eagles' offense as they shift back to a shotgun option attack.

"I know a lot of people assume we'll be in the flexbone and under center. We really want our base and our foundation to be out of the gun," Summers says. "Leading the nation in rushing and yards per carry are still a big part of what we're trying to do, but we have to be efficient with the football."

When hired in late 2015, Summers expressed excitement about recruiting in the state of Georgia, especially the southwest region. He says bringing guys from his native area to Statesboro remains a priority for the program, but they want to continue their recruiting success across the Peach State.

"You should always be in a position where you can be productive in recruiting because of where you're pulling your people from," he says.

The Eagles will have to replace 26 seniors from the 2016 team, and they won't ease into the 2017 campaign at all. Georgia Southern opens the season September 2 at Auburn.

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