Mercer football brings in preseason awards

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Mercer football brings in preseason awards

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Throughout the summer, players of the Mercer Bears’ football team have been collecting preseason awards for the upcoming season. In the 2013 season, the team went 10-2 overall and had a groundbreaking year for the new program.

This array of preseason awards proves that a number of Mercer players will be a force to reckon with this upcoming season.

On June 9, John Russ was named to the College Football Performance Awards Quarterback Watch List. Russ is just one of 36 FCS quarterbacks in the country to be recognized for this award. In January, a committee will chose a top quarterback from this elite list, and he will be presented with the top quarterback honor.

On July 15, the American Football Coaches Association nominated Russ for the Allstate Good Works Team. He is just one nominee of 182 to be considered for the award. This particular award involves excelling on the field and in the classroom while also attempting to create a better community.

While at Mercer, John Russ has been involved in charitable organizations such as the Backpack Ministry and the Ronald McDonald House. The finalists for the Good Works Team will be announced in September, and the public will be able to vote for their hometown nominees.

On June 16, Payton Usher, a running back for the Bears, joined John Russ on the CFPA Watch List. Usher is just one of 38 running backs to be named to the list. In the 2013 season, Usher rushed a total of 776 yards and averaged 86.2 yards per game.

“I feel honored to be on the CFPA watch list because it represents how much hard work my teammates and I put in everyday to be the best we can be. I wouldn’t be on the watch list without my teammates and coaches pushing me to get better everyday,” said Usher. “It starts from the top with our coaches, and as players we have to buy into the system and do our part. Being on the watch list is a reflection of the entire team believing in the system, and doing their part to make each other better.”

On July 2, Robert Brown continued to add to the preseason awards for the Mercer football team. He was the third member of the team to be added onto the CFPA Watch List. Brown is just one of 36 tight ends in the FCS to be named to the list. In his 2013 debut, Brown received Second Team All-Pioneer Football League honors and had over 20 receptions throughout the season.

On July 7, Tyler Zielenski was the fourth member of the Mercer Football Team to be named to the CFPA Watch List. The sophomore is just one of 36 kickers in the FCS to be named to this list. In the 2013 season, Zielenski totaled 77 points while going 47-of-48 on point-after attempts.

“It was really an honor to be one of 36 players to watch at my position for the upcoming season,” said Zielenski. “I was glad to see that all of my hard work and coaching that I have received over the years has paid off.”

On July 31, J.T. Palmer became the fifth Bear to be named to the CFPA Watch List. He is just one of 34 punt returners in the FCS to be named to the list. In the 2013 season, Palmer recorded seven touchdowns while also returning 10 punts. He also ranked second in the Pioneer Football League for yards per return.

The last preseason award was given to Tosin Aguebar, sophomore linebacker. Aguebar was named to the CollegeSportsMadness.com FCS Preseason All-America Third Team. He is just one of six players in the Southern Conference to be chosen for

the award. In the 2013 season, Aguebar was named to the Pioneer Football League First Team and was also selected as the Mercer’s Co-Defensive Most Valuable Player.

On Aug. 12, JeTarii Donald was the sixth Bear to be named to a CFPA Watch List. The sophomore running back is just one of 30 FCS all-purpose performers to be named to this list. Donald scored nine touchdowns in the 2013 season while also racking up a total of 1,444 yards.

Bobby Lamb, head coach of the team, explained that this awards are a direct reflection of last season’s successes.

“When you get preseason awards, it’s basically based off of last year’s performance,” said Lamb. “We had some guys that had some great performances last year, and it’s always great to see preseason rankings come out and preseason honors to come out because it gives your program credibility.”

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