ATLANTA — Even though Drew Little passed up on an opportunity to play football at Boston College, he knows he’ll be part of something big at Georgia State.
"It’s rewarding to come in here and be the start of something," said Little, a 6-foot-4 quarterback from McDonough. "Twenty years down the road I’ll be able to say I was on the first team, which is really uplifting."
On Tuesday, about 70 players reported to Georgia State’s campus — a day before the fledgling football program kicks off its first practice at the NFL Youth Education Town Center in downtown Atlanta.
A new practice field is expected to be finished by the start of January next year.
Players took photos, attended several meetings, got physical exams and were measured for uniforms and helmets.
Mark Hogan said he’s been waiting for this day since he was the first scholarship player to enroll at Georgia State in January.
"I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time," Hogan said. "It’s really nice to finally have everyone here so we can start getting better as a team."
Georgia State won’t be playing actual games this season. They’ll be preparing for their debut in 2010, when their home games will be played at the Georgia Dome.Until Georgia State plays its first game, coach Bill Curry said he’s looking to keep his players motivated by holding scrimmages, though he doesn’t know how many.
He also said performing hit drills like "bull-in-the-ring" should provide a competitive experience.
But before Georgia State gets too physical, Curry said he wants to see how talented his players are.
"You’ve got to be careful first before you do too much," he said. "If you do it at the wrong time, you can destroy a young man’s confidence. If you do it at the right time, you can build him up.
"We’re going to build them up," he added. "But we’ll be very demanding."
One player Curry knows about already is Little, who threw for 3,024 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his senior season at Henry County High.
Curry said Little should lead a spread offense designed by John Bond, who spent 11 seasons as an offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, Northern Illinois, Army and Illinois State.
"Drew and others like him understood the potential for this university and town to make a statement," Curry said. "I get goosebumps every time I thinking about guys with that kind of commitment and have other options."
Certain dates on next year’s schedule still needs to be filled. But at least Georgia State knows they’ll an away game against Alabama. Curry coached the Crimson Tide to a Southeastern Conference title in 1989.
Asked if Georgia State is looking to schedule any other big-time teams, Curry said they don’t plan to "schedule a bunch of monsters" like Alabama. Though he didn’t give any hints about other opponents, the coach said the schedule is close to being complete.
"We’re in pretty good shape in what we want to do with our schedule," he said.
Georgia State, which will play as an independent for two years in the Football Championship Subdivision, will start play in the Colonial Athletic Association for the 2012 season.
By then, Georgia State should have a new a weight room, a set of assistant coaches, meeting rooms and a training room. The school paid $6.6 million for the site and plans to spend another $5.6 million on construction and for the two fields.