Jeff Monken says Robert Brown will have back surgery Monday

STATESBORO -- Robert Brown’s promising football career at Georgia Southern has been put on hold by an upcoming back surgery.

Eagles head coach Jeff Monken confirmed that Brown, who has 1,941 yards rushing in two seasons, will have surgery on his back Monday.

Brown’s status for this season is unknown, Monken said.

“We hope he’ll be back,” Monken said. “But there’s no way of knowing right now. Back injuries are that way.”

The Eagles report for preseason workouts July 30.

Georgia Southern’s season opener is Sept. 1 when it hosts Jacksonville.

Brown, who starred at Westside, was one of the prize recruits of Monken’s first recruiting class. Brown showed why when he rushed for 1,004 yards as a true freshman, helping lead the Eagles to a 10-5 record and a spot in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs.

But in the third game of the season he suffered a back injury at Coastal Carolina and missed most of the next three games.

When the 5-foot-11, 203-pound Brown returned, he came back strong, scoring the game-winning touchdown in overtime as Georgia Southern upset then top-ranked Appalachian State and rushing for 153 yards the following week against Western Carolina.

Those two victories and a season-ending win at Furman led Georgia Southern to a playoff bid. Brown had the best game of his short career in the second round when he ran for 178 yards as the Eagles stunned heavily favored William & Mary.

Last year, Brown had three 100-yard performances in the first five games of the season. The back problems returned, however, and that gave an opening to true freshman Dominque Swope, who ran for 1,033 yards and started the final four games of the season.

Brown was moved to slotback but had only seven carries in Georgia Southern’s final four games. He sat out the team’s semifinal loss at North Dakota State and was held out of any contact work during the spring with hopes that his back would heal with rest.

Monken, who said Brown received injections for pain last season in order to play, had high hopes for Brown at the slotback position. Should he be forced to take an injury redshirt, Brown would have two years eligibility remaining.