Top-rated recruiting class spells strong future for Mercer Football


Image: Jenna Eason

Photo by Jenna Eason.

Avery Braxton, Staff Writer

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)