Photo provided by Mercer Athletics.
After a team leading 2017 season that included eight goals and 20 points, Will Bagrou is now on the watchlist for the MAC Hermann trophy, a prestigious award annually given to the top NCAA division one men’s soccer player.
Brad Ruzzo, Mercer Mens’ Soccer head coach, said in a press release, “This is a great achievement for Will as well as our program.”
The award is voted on by a panel of judges from the United Soccer Coaches association. The voting doesn’t take place until the end of the season, but if Bagrou performs similarly to how he did last year, then he has a good chance of winning the award.
Last season, Bagrou was a semi-finalist for the award, but his other accomplishment of being SoCon Male Athlete of the Year may help him stand out this year.
Bagrou is the first Mercer student athlete to win the award and also the only men’s soccer player in SoCon history to have ever won it.
Bagrou said the honor of being the first men’s soccer player to win the award resonated with him considering all of the other notable soccer players who have passed through the conference.
“If you go along the lines of great soccer players who have played in SoCon, such as Clint Dempsey, who is one of the best players on the U.S. Men’s National Team, for me to be the first one is a huge honor.”
Ruzzo said Bagrou’s performance put him in a special position to win the award that historically has been dominated by football and basketball players.
“It’s special for him,” Ruzzo said. “He had a very special season last year, and I know he’s got a lot more in his game to be even better in his senior year.”
Bagrou is keenly aware of where this award puts him in terms of former SoCon Male Athlete of the Year recipients.
“Looking at the list there are a lot of great athletes,” Bagrou said. “Steph Curry, Adrian Peterson and Jerry West — they’ve all won this award.”
Ruzzo said that he fully expects Bagrou to play professionally in the future and is proud of the role Bagrou has played during his time at Mercer.
“He’s a leader. He’s been through the wars with us and he’s played every minute and started every game since he’s been here,” Ruzzo said. “He had 8 or 9 goals last year, but he could have had 13 or 14 goals. He really has a great future if he has a really great season.”
Even with these high expectations from his coach and the other coaches who will be judging him this season for the MAC Hermann award, Bagrou has managed to narrow his center of attention on only what remains in front of him: his team and the next game to come.
“If we make a run in the NCAA tournament, then me and a bunch of other guys will get lots of recognition,” Bagrou said. “So first and foremost we’ve got to focus on the team, and the individual awards will come.”
However, as many athletes do, Bagrou has set a high bar for him to reach this year in terms of scoring goals.
“Every year I try to get to double digits. 15 is a good aim, but I need to take it game by game,” Bagrou said. “[I’m] looking forward to game one which is Georgia State, and we’ll take it from there.”
Mercer’s regular season begins Aug. 25 playing at Georgia State.