Scouts’ interest in Bears is proof of program’s success


Image: Jenna Eason

Mercer’s John Russ (7) runs with the ball in Mercer’s Homecoming game against East Tennessee State University on Saturday, November 5, 2016.

Al Kessler, Contributing Writer

As the Mercer Bears football program heads into the final stretch of their fourth season since rebooting the sport, there are many signs pointing to the success of the fledgling team. Regardless of the team’s record this season, over the past month the team has been visited by three scouts from National Football League organizations.

The Bears have 29 seniors on the roster so any scout analyzing the Mercer team will be able to see a large body of potential players. Two of the three scouts who have visited the team represent the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts.

Neither Mercer staff nor team personnel would comment on the specific players being evaluated, but a quick look at both of the aforementioned teams’ depth charts leads one to believe that there is a defensive focus. Of the 29 seniors for the Bears, 14 are defensive players, but for the remaining 13 offensive players there is still a chance of impressing the scouts enough to earn a tryout opportunity.

Head Coach Bobby Lamb spoke about the arrival of the scouts and what it means for his program.

It says a lot about our program and our players. Any time you have a senior class…the pro scouts are like the college scouts. We go to different schools, bigger schools, smaller schools to recruit kids and the pro scouts do the same. We’ve got more coming by this week and as the season goes on, that’s what [the scouts] do. It says a lot about our program right now. Hopefully they’ll all come back next year as well,” Lamb said.

Mercer senior defensive back Zach Jackson also weighed in on the presence of professional scouts.

“It’s a great feeling. I remember being a freshman and sophomore at TCU and seeing scouts come out to practice almost every day and thinking, ‘what would it be like to be a senior and have that happen?’ So, it happening now is enough to realize someone might have their dreams come true. It’s a great feeling but at the end of the day, we may only have three games left and we just want to win those games. Anything can happen after that; nothing is guaranteed,” Jackson said.

In speaking with both men, the pride in the program was palpable. Both were very pleased and the hosting of NFL scouts is a concrete indication of the program’s success. For a program as young as the one at Mercer, these last four years have been a strong start, but the real test will come next year. When the current seniors walk across the graduation stage and into the real world, the players who step into their place, and what coach Lamb can do with those players, will be the real test. If the current trend for Mercer football continues, in another four years’ time, one could look at a program known across the state and the Southern Conference for producing top flight talent.