Mercer offense getting preseason attention

mlough@macon.comJune 21, 2014 


Mercer quarterback John Russ celebrates his first touchdown of the his team's win against Valparaiso.

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Defenses in the Southern Conference are getting a sneak preview of what Mercer’s offense has to offer, thanks to preseason watch lists.

Mercer quarterback John Russ is one of 36 to watch, in the eyes of College Football Performance, which put the sophomore on its quarterback watch list. Russ was the Pioneer Football League’s top freshman on offense last year.

Running back Payton Usher also made a watch list this month as one of 38 on the CFPA running back list.

Mercer is one of 17 FCS teams to have a player on the quarterback and running back lists. The Bears open the season Aug. 28 against visiting Reinhardt.

Around Mercer/A-Sun

• New professional baseball player Michael Massi had a good week.

A day before signing a free-agent contract with St. Louis, the versatile former Mercer infielder was named to the Rawlings/American Baseball Coaches Association All-South Region second team.

Six A-Sun players made the team, and Kennesaw State standout Max Pentecost was the only other player from Georgia to make it.

The South region consists of eight Southeastern states and Missouri.

Massi, the A-Sun defensive player of the year, batted .346 and was tied for sixth in the conference with 51 hits.

• Former Notre Dame standout David Rivers has joined the men’s basketball staff at Kennesaw State.

Rivers, named associate head coach, was an All-American at Notre Dame in the 1980s, spent three seasons in the NBA and played and coached in Europe until retiring from basketball about a decade ago.

He has been involved in a variety of businesses since retiring.

• Pentecost, the 11th pick in the major league draft, was named to Perfect Game’s All-America first team.

The catcher led the nation with 113 hit and was second with a .423 average, helping the Owls to the NCAA tournament. Kennesaw State won the Tallahassee Regional and went 0-2 against Louisville in the Super Regional.

Around Georgia College/Peach Belt

• Georgia College finished 23rd in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s final women’s poll of the season while the women were 27th.

The women were fourth in the Southeast Region and the men fifth.

• Rising senior catcher Steve Hazel added two more postseason honors recently on the field and off.

He was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s Division II All-America first team after batting .381 with 13 homers. Hazel is the third Georgia College player to make the first team, joining infielder Tanner Funk (2011) and pitcher Martin Dewald (2010).

The Michigan native was also named the top business management student of the year in Georgia College’s Atkinson Honors Ceremony.

Around the state

• Georgia Southern’s Edwin Jackson made Athlon’s preseason All-Sun Belt third team.

The senior linebacker and former walk-on from Westlake has played in 36 of the Eagles’ 39 games the past three seasons and led the defense with 92 tackles in 2013.

• Junior softball player Brooke Red was one of 16 Georgia Southern athletes to make the Southern Conference’s spring academic team. The exercise science major had a 4.0

Samford runner Ashley Cope (FPD) made the team with a 3.36 in exercise science.

Alumni Update

The Seattle Seahawks website looked into how fast the team’s receivers are and what a 4x100-meter relay team might look like.

And former Fort Valley State standout Ricardo Lockette was in the middle of it, along with Percy Harvin, Paul Richardson and Jeremy Lane.

The site list each player’s personal bests in the 40, 100 and 200. Lockette was the fastest in each: 4.26, 10.0 and 20.3.

The NCAA Division II 200 champion in 2008 is one of 12 receivers on Seattle’s summer roster.

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