Christmas came just a tad bit early for the Bears as they participated in the first ever December early signing period for NCAA football. Mercer Football signed 12 high school seniors to national letters of intent between Dec. 20-22.
The early signing period was the first of its kind and is likely to shift the paradigm of college football recruiting in the coming years. Players now have the option to sign in the three day window between Dec. 20-22 or can wait until the traditional signing period in February.
“It really puts the pressure back on the kids,” said Head Football Coach Bobby Lamb, “because now if he’s got a firm offer and a firm, legitimate chance to sign a scholarship with a FCS program, ‘do I do that or do I wait for a FBS program.’”
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Lamb said the new signing period has been welcomed by football coaches around the country. It works to the advantage of coaches, because they can likely sign the bulk of their recruiting class early and still work on bringing in a number of recruits from the end of that period into February until April 1.
The early period also saves coaching staffs recruiting money as well, because if players sign in December then coaches no longer have to spend money constantly visiting them in January.
“It makes the three weeks in December that you’re on the road a little bit more hectic, but at the end of the day you’re able to sign a class on December 20 and put that class to bed, so to say,” Lamb said. “I really believe that in five to eight years this will become THE signing day.”
Lamb and his staff brought in 12 players as part of the #MUvment18 recruiting class. Ten of those come from the state of Georgia, while one hails from North Carolina and another from South Carolina. The Bears especially got a boost up front as this class boasts four offensive lineman and three defensive lineman. That will be a big help in the coming years as Mercer loses Caleb Yates, Jalen Penn, Austin Barrett and Mr. Big Man Touchdown Thomas Marchman to graduation. The seven new lineman will have the benefit of learning from two lines that have experienced though relatively young talent on both sides of the ball.
Coach Lamb was especially excited about collecting Eagles Landing Christian Academy’s Gavan George from McDonough. The 6’5” 270-pound offensive lineman is mobile and very physical at the tackle position. He’s also a proven winner, winning back-to-back state titles at ELCA.
“I think the young man lost maybe six games in his entire high school career,” Lamb said. “We feel good about everything from his high school coach to his guidance counselors.”
As far as the pretty skill positions that everyone pays attention to, Lamb and company signed one quarterback, running back, and wide receiver as well as two defensive backs. Highlighting that group is Bryce Lawrence out of Ola High School in McDonough.
Lawrence is 6’3” and 200 pounds and on tape looks like Kaelan Riley lite. Quick-decision making and a dual-threat make him ideal for quarterbacks that Mercer has had in the past. He fell in love with Mercer early on and verbally committed over the 2017 summer. Coach Lamb thinks he might have a bit of a jump on everybody.
“He’s been to a lot of our practices and a lot of our games so he might know the offense better than anybody,” Lamb said.
The Mercer staff is still looking to fill some holes in the next signing period. Lamb expects to sign four to five more recruits to plug holes at inside linebacker, tight end, cornerback and wide receiver.
The final 2018 class signing period begins Feb. 7 and will end April 1. Recruits will report to campus on June 24 for the second-session of summer school. Check out all the new recruits in the table below.
Mercer 2018 December Recruiting Class
|Tyrese Cohen||OL||6’4”||310||Aiken, SC|
|DeMond Ellison||WR||6’3”||212||Canton, GA|
|Collin Foster||OL||6’3”||258||Buford, GA|
|Gavan George||OL||6’5”||270||McDonough, GA|
|Coby Germany||DL||6’2”||253||Grovetown, GA|
|Isaiah Goolsby||OL||6’4”||330||Macon, GA|
|Bryce Lawrence||QB||6’3”||200||McDonough, GA|
|DJ McDaniel||DL||6’1”||262||Indian Trail, NC|
|Xavier Perkins||DL||6’2”||240||Atlanta, GA|
|Kareem Rogers||RB||5’11”||182||Stockbridge, GA|
|Kermit Solomon||DB||6’2”||176||Albany, GA|
|DQ Wilkerson||DB||6’0”||185||LaGrange, GA|