The Mercer University Men’s Lacrosse preseason is officially underway, as the team has begun off-season practices of lifting and conditioning.
Second-year head coach Kyle Hannan says he has been very impressed with practices so far.
“All of the things you’re looking for as a coach I think is a notch ahead of where we were last year,” said Hannan.
With a new coaching staff coming in last year, the program has been going through many changes. This season, the team has a completely new look, with the addition of 23 new freshmen. Hannan said that this was a concern for him coming into this season, but the upperclassmen have done a great job of leading the team and helping the freshmen adjust to the quicker and more physical play.
“I am so proud of the way that the upperclassmen have handled this. They have taken the new guys in and provided very good leadership. They’re letting the freshmen know the type of culture that we’re trying to create here. They’re keeping the energy level up and helping them through tough situations. It’s been very positive,” said Hannan.
Out of all of the freshmen, Hannan said that it is difficult to pick out one player in particular that has impressed him so far. According to Hannan, they’ve all worked hard on and off the field and are adjusting well to being collegiate student athletes. He does comment, however, that the defensive group of recruits are really going to play a large role in the success of the team this season.
“The defensive end is the most significant change. That’s where we brought in the strength of our recruiting class. We’re bringing in guys that are probably going to have a quicker impact on how we play at that end of the field,” said Hannan.
Hannan also stated that freshmen Chris Rahill and Kevin Yoggy have worked their way up the depth chart offensively, and are going to be exceptional players with much potential. Rahill commented saying that it’s been difficult adjusting to the faster-paced play, but the upperclassmen have really made it easier to come in as a freshman.
“The game speed has for sure been a big change for me, but I’m starting to get used to it,” said Rahill. “The upperclassmen really have done a great job welcoming our large freshman class and making us feel like part of a family from the start. It’s that kind of leadership from your juniors and seniors that can make a good program a great one, and they have definitely done a fantastic job with that.”
Sunday, Sept. 29, the Bears hosted two scrimmages against Birmingham Southern and Sewanee, where they came out with a stellar performance. Mercer won both scrimmages with an impressive combined score of 42-4.
Junior Timmy Geran was a standout player Sunday. He said that he was happy with how the team played overall, but there is still much room for improvement.
“It was nice to see some of the freshman step up and it was nice seeing all the work that returners put in this summer show up on the field. The main problem with the scrimmages was that we had way too many turnovers. But they were dumb mistakes which are very fixable. We will see how we do with that this weekend when we play two more scrimmages in Jacksonville,” said Geran.
The Bears are on the road this weekend as they play two more preseason scrimmages against Tampa and Florida Tech. in Jacksonville, Fla.