Defensive back Picasso Nelson Jr., running back George Payne and wide receiver Chase Whitehead will miss the remainder of the 2017 season due to injury. Also, running back coach Lytrel Pollard who is taking indefinite leave due to health concerns.
“I would say probably so,” said Head Coach Jay Hopson on Nelson and Payne being out for the season. “I hate saying it officially, but Picasso probably is for sure. I don’t know about George yet. There’s a good chance of that.”
Nelson, an Oak Grove alum, missed the first three games of the season due to an unspecified injury. He later released on Instagram that he would be taking the season off to recover. Nelson has made 31 starts and appeared in every game of his career and has recorded 143 tackles and four interceptions in his three years as a starter. Nelson has not used his redshirt and is eligible for a medical redshirt allowing him to play next year. Notably, eight defensive backs will graduate after this season making his return crucial for next season.
Redshirt senior George Payne may not see the field either this season due to reaggravating his hip injury. Payne missed the 2015 season due to a knee injury. Payne has been the reliable No. 2 back for the Golden Eagles for almost two seasons, in his career he has totaled 1,116 yards and ten touchdowns.
Whitehead, a junior and transfer from the University of South Florida, has one catch for 35 yards in the first two games of the season. In 2016, the junior slot receiver caught 18 catches for 286 yards, two touchdowns and was third on the team in yards per catch at 15.9. Whitehead injured a hand and will have to undergo surgery.
Despite, losing several key Golden Eagles the bye has helped the team recover, as several players will return to face North Texas.
“I think there’s an excellent chance we might be getting Tez (Parks), Julian (Allen), Delmond (Landry) and some of those guys back,” said Head Coach Jay Hopson. “The break did kind of hit us at a good time just because we were pretty banged up so I’m thinking we’ll get four or five guys back.”
Running back Tez Parks will take over the job as the No. 2 running back, as he was projected to do before the season started. Tight end Julian Allen will continue his role in the blocking scheme along with his duties in the passing game. Finally, the return of defensive lineman Delmond Landry will only increase the threat of the defensive line.
The Golden Eagles will kick off against North Texas in M.M. Roberts Stadium at 6 p.m.