Top-rated recruiting class spells strong future for Mercer Football
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National Signing Day came and went Feb. 1. Teams across the country were flooded with national letters of intent from prospective athletes who represent the future of programs. Mercer made a splash this year turning in the top-rated recruiting class in the Southern Conference.
The number one-rated recruiting class is also sixth best in the FCS. Mercer’s 19 new signees include six offensive linemen, four defensive backs, three receivers and running backs apiece, one quarterback, a linebacker and a kicker.
“Our coaches did a great job going out and identifying our needs,” said Mercer football head coach Bobby Lamb. “We did a great job of meeting our needs and we’re excited about getting these boys in here.”
The high ranked class is indicative of the quality of both the coaches’ recruiting and Mercer’s marketing campaigning the past two seasons. Mercer’s signing classes have seen themselves on billboards in Atlanta and as far north as New York City’s Time Square. The high FCS ranking is telltale of the reach that Mercer is creating nationally.
“You can’t put a value on stuff like that,” Lamb said. “All the things we’re doing off the field . . . it’s huge because it shows you that Mercer thinks outside the box, Mercer likes to put their name out on a big scale and it’s really helped bring in athletes to this university who wouldn’t have known who Mercer was otherwise.”
The big name marketing has paid off as Mercer is beginning to compete with bigger schools on the recruiting trail. A recruiting gold nugget this year was the acquisition of Tennessee native Robert Riddle who was a 3-star recruit. The high school senior threw for 3,000+ yards and 25 touchdowns this season en route to a regional player of the year title.
Lamb and his crew were able to wrestle Riddle away from bigger schools like Ball State, Miami (Ohio) and Eastern Michigan. The snatch is significant because all three schools compete on the FBS level, which have a chance to compete for the College Football Playoff.
“It’s just one letter difference, but they come here and they see what we got and they go to some of those places and they see we have more excitement here, more support here and certainly [football] is a big deal in the South,” Lamb said.
Bigger and stronger recruiting classes could be just what Mercer needs to get over the hump in the Southern Conference. In the last 3 years, the Bears have lost 11 games by seven points or less. That could be the difference in a middle of the pack finish and a chance to compete for Southern Conference supremacy.
The new Bears can also help out in Mercer’s amped up out of conference schedule as well. Mercer announced their 2017 schedule and it includes high profile opponents in Auburn and Alabama. The Bears already tested their chops against Georgia Tech in 2016.
A full list of Mercer’s 2017 recruiting class is included below:
|Name||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Yr.||Exp.||Hometown (Previous School)|
|Eric Allen||OL||6-5||290||Fr.||HS||Powder Springs, Ga. (Harrison HS)|
|BJ Bohler||DB||5-8||180||Fr.||HS||Ocoee, Fla. (Ocoee HS)|
|Terence Brigham||OL||6-4||285||Jr.||JC||Fresno, Texas (Trinity Valley CC/Grambling State)|
|Tyray Devezin||RB||5-8||210||Fr.||HS||Woodstock, Ga. (Etowah HS)|
|David Durden||WR||6-2||200||Fr.||HS||Midville, Ga. (Emanuel County Institute)|
|Michael Freeman||LB||6-2||215||Fr.||HS||Hogansville, Ga. (Callaway HS)|
|Danijah Gammage||DB||6-2||190||Fr.||HS||Brunswick, Ga. (Brunswick HS)|
|Grant Goupil||K/P||6-2||175||Fr.||HS||Lake Mary, Fla. (Lake Mary HS)|
|Edmond Graham||WR||5-10||170||Fr.||HS||Buford, Ga. (Mill Creek HS)|
|Jamar Hall||DB||6-2||190||Fr.||HS||Dacula, Ga. (Mill Creek HS)|
|Rashad Haynes||RB||5-10||180||Fr.||HS||Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis Central HS)|
|Trey Iorillo||OL||6-4||310||Fr.||HS||Kennesaw, Ga. (Harrison HS)|
|Rob Lake||WR||5-11||173||Fr.||HS||Ocala, Fla. (Vanguard HS)|
|CJ Leggett||RB||5-10||205||R-Jr.||JC||Suwanee, Ga. (Mesa CC/Georgia Tech)|
|David May||OL||6-3||300||Sr.||TR||Orange Park, Fla. (Valdosta State)|
|Thomas McBride||OL||6-3||285||Fr.||HS||Forsyth, Ga. (First Presbyterian Day HS)|
|Robert Riddle||QB||6-3||190||Fr.||HS||Lookout Mountain, Tenn. (The McCallie School)|
|Andrew Robinson||OL||6-3||295||Fr.||HS||Birmingham, Ala. (Ramsay HS)|
|Luke Ward||DB||6-1||190||Fr.||HS||Atmore, Ala (Northview (Fla.) HS)|