Mercer’s Ousman Jabang '23 was selected 75th overall in the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft, to CF Montréal on Dec. 21, 2022. Jabang has played for the Bears since he signed with the team out of Ola High School in McDonough, Georgia.
To fill the ranks of MLS squads and their affiliate teams, the SuperDraft provides teams with a chance to claim the signing rights to any player who is eligible to be drafted. Much like the draft in the NFL and NBA, less successful teams are able to draft sooner than successful teams. For the most part, teams use the opportunity to target college prospects who have put their name into the draft pool. Since the MLS is a relatively young league, some teams who compete in it are unable to sustain themselves by signing and attracting talent without needing some support, which is what the SuperDraft provides.
As a Bear, Jabang was a central piece to head coach Brad Ruzzo’s backline and midfield. His work rate was always high, earning a start in every game as a junior and senior and all but one as a sophomore. In that time, he scored nine goals and tallied 14 assists, his junior year being the most productive with four goals and seven assists in 18 games.
Jabang leaves Mercer after accomplishing incredible success in his four years as a Bear. As a freshman, he won his first SoCon championship. In the final, he played 52 minutes as a substitute and had one shot in the game. In 2021, Jabang played an integral part in Mercer’s second championship in three years, when the team bested Belmont at home, 4-3. In 2022, Jabang led the team to its third SoCon appearance in four years.
Jabang is no stranger to the MLS structure. He came up through the academy system of Atlanta United. There, he played with Mercer teammates Dylan Gaither '23 and Brant Zulauf '23, as well as current professionals George Bello, forward for Arminia Bielefeld, and Aiden McFadden, left back for Atlanta United.
CF Montréal competes in the Eastern Conference of MLS, a league it has participated in since 2012. While it has for years languished around 10th place at the end of the season, the team’s 2022 campaign showed signs of a new start for the club. They finished second in the East, winning their first game of the playoffs against Orlando City SC before falling to New York City FC in the Conference Semifinals.
In the ensuing offseason, the team lost many of their breakout stars to other leagues, which will open up minutes for prospects like Jabang to play with the first team.
In an interview with Mercer Athletics, head coach Brad Ruzzo touched on the success that Mercer enjoyed with Jabang in the team.
“This is certainly a special day for Ousman, our program, and Mercer University and having our second MLS draft pick in the program is a testament to our winning culture that has been developed over the years," Ruzzo said. "He certainly deserves this opportunity as he will go down as one of the best players in Southern Conference and Mercer Soccer history."