Georgia State rises in rankings with newfound focus

Editor’s note: College golf fans know the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings are a way to keep track of trending teams and players. We’ll highlight such a program each week in our There’s Always Better Spotlight. This feature examines a men’s or women’s college golf team that made a significant climb in the rankings, and how that might impact the team’s season.

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Focus is one aspect of every golfer’s game that one should never steer away from. But for Joe Inman’s Georgia State’s squad that’s exactly what happened.

Most coaches depend heavily on their seniors to be leaders both on and off the course. But for Inman, his seniors – Damon Stephenson, Gus Wagoner and Davin White – weren’t focused on the task at hand, but rather what happens after college golf.

“They had to learn how to prioritize,” Inman said of his seniors. “Now they’ve been trying to relax and enjoy (their) senior year. They all seem to have a solid plan now and seem to be more focused.”

Rather than having Inman give them a stern talking-to for the second time this season, the players had a closed-door meeting, discussing what needed to happen in order to turn the season around and make the postseason for a second consecutive year.

And it’s been showing as the team has had quite the turn of events since the beginning of March.

The Panthers, ranked No. 63 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, finished third at the Tiger Invitational, second at the Southern Intercollegiate and won the Furman Intercollegiate within its past four starts.

Not only did the seniors refocus, but so did the team’s best player, junior J.J. Grey.

In the same four starts as his team, Grey has earned three top-five finishes including a win at the Southern Intercollegiate and two runner-up finishes.

“It’s been in the cards for a while, but I started practicing with more purpose and intensity,” Grey said. “I took the pressure off myself.”

With the team clicking on all cylinders, the golf team may have been was spurred on by the basketball team, too.

The team’s first win of the season came a week after Georgia State’s basketball team won its second-round NCAA Championship game on a buzzer beater to upset Baylor.

The team’s celebrate video went viral. (SEE HERE)

“It made everybody feel good,” Inman said. “It was good for school. Good for exposure. Just good for a lot of reasons.”

With its new found focus, the team, who has jumped 20 spots in the rankings since the fall season, knows its regarded as one of the favorites heading into the Sun Belt Conference Championship on April 19, and is ready to finish the season like like last year.

“Coming into the season, the one thing that our team lost (from last year) was important, and that was emotion,” Inman said. “It was hard to get past that. But now, the team has developed its own emotion, its own chemistry. It was hard to do at first, but we’re really in a good place right now.”

And just at the right time.

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