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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2023

Student coaches football alongside professionals 

John-Allen Stone watches players during pre-season football practice.
John-Allen Stone watches players during pre-season football practice.

Every sports team needs athletes to make plays and win games. While these players are important, every program also needs good coaching to make it successful.

Mercer Athletics has given students an opportunity to coach a team under Mercer’s very own coaching staff.

John-Allen Stone is entering his third year working under Mercer's football staff and is the Football Operations Intern and Director of Gameday Recruiting Employment this year. The program has taught him everything from equipment management to sideline operations.

A normal football game for Stone means showing the new recruits around the football field. Then when game time comes Stone is on the sideline helping the coaching staff and hyping up the team during game play.

“I found this opportunity at Mercer with a division one program, and it’s been nothing but great,” Stone said.

There are 11 coaches on staff with five supporting coaches for the football team. With over 75 players, there is always something to do.

“So with operations, it’s the glue that makes the team stick together,” Stone said. “It's from the smallest possible job to some of the big important ones.”

Stone said that even the little things he does become important because someone has to do it. He sees these experiences as something that not only betters himself but his future career, too.

“I am learning a lot of little things that I wouldn't have learned doing equipment at a bigger school,” Stone said. “I am really soaking up more football knowledge from the coaches because I have the ability to be right on top of them.”

The team practices over 10 hours during the year every week, and they will play 11 games over the course of the season.

“Not many people get to say that they stood on the sidelines and 'coached' in quotation marks against Alabama and Auburn,” Stone said. “If that's your passion, the Mercer program gives you the tools to further develop that and find a career in it.”


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