Image: Matt Odom, Mercer University Athletics
Mercer football’s captains leading by example on the field
Before the season, Head Coach Bobby Lamb announced the team’s four captains: Thomas Marchman, Lee Bennett, LeMarkus Bailey and Isaiah Buehler.
The captains were selected by their teammates, and they’re expected to be leaders both on and off the field. All of them are first-time captains.
“Being selected as a captain is one of the highest honors you can receive as a student-athlete because your peers make the decision,” Lamb said via a press release. “Thomas, Lee, LeMarkus and Isaiah are four hard-working young men who represent our program the right way, on and off the field. I’m proud of them for stepping up as leaders among their teammates.”
Through four games this season, the captains have lived up to the task of performing on the field.
Thomas Marchman, OL, Senior
Marchman is the lone offensive captain. Slotted at left tackle as one of three returning starters on the offensive line, Marchman was voted to the Preseason All-Southern Conference First Team.
The senior was also nominated for the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, an award that recognizes college football players who excel off the field in community service and enriching the lives of others. He was one of 146 players nominated at the FBS and FCS level.
On the field, Marchman leads an offensive line that has protected redshirt quarterback Kaelan RIley. Through four games, the Bears have allowed only four sacks. The offense is averaging 27 points per game with 133 rushing yards and 197 passing yards per game.
Lee Bennett, LB, Senior
The senior is one of two captains in the linebacker corps. Bennett entered the season as the leading returning tackler on the team after registering 63 stops last season—second on the team only to Tyler Ward.
Now a third-year starter, Bennett ranks second on the team in total tackles, 32, including back-to-back outings against Auburn and East Tennessee State University with nine each. Bennett also has a fumble recovery, sack and two tackles for loss.
LeMarkus Bailey, LB, Redshirt Junior
The other captain at linebacker, Bailey has taken a leap forward in his fourth year. The redshirt junior played safety his first season at Mercer, appearing in 10 games.
And then he changed positions. Moving to outside linebacker his sophomore season, Bailey recorded 11 tackles in three games before suffering a season-ending injury—allowing him to redshirt.
After his sophomore campaign was cut short by injury, Bailey played all 11 games last season en route to 56 total tackles, good for third on the team. He currently ranks third on the team in tackles this season with 32.
But 29 of those came in the first three games, including an 11-tackle—10 solo—outing against Auburn. He also added a forced fumble and fumble recovery in that game.
For the season, he leads the team with 20 solo tackles and also has an interception and four and a half tackles for loss.
Isaiah Buehler, DL, Redshirt Junior
Buehler was one of three players selected to the Preseason All-SoCon First Team for the Bears. It wasn’t his first accolade.
The redshirt junior was tabbed to the 2016 All-SoCon Second Team after recording 31 tackles, seven for loss and three sacks last season. He was also named to the 2015 SoCon All-Freshman Team after registering 38 tackles, seven and a half tackles for loss and three sacks.
This season, Buehler has 15 tackles, one a half for loss and two quarterbacks hits. Starting at defensive end, Buehler anchors a defense that is allowing 21.3 points per game to opponents this year.