It was a National Signing Day unlike any signing day in Bobby Lamb’s long football career.
By the time Lamb was ready to head out of the office for the night, the head coach at Mercer had 37 letters of commitment from high school players, a dozen more than he was used to dealing with as the longtime head coach at Furman.
The other difference for Lamb is that the school can’t release the list of signees, and he can’t comment on them.
Because Mercer is a non-scholarship program, nothing is really binding, and nothing is official until a recruit is actually enrolled in school and pays a deposit.
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But Lamb said the first day was a successful one in terms of numbers and what he was looking for position-wise. His priority was signing 10 offensive linemen and eight defensive linemen before he’s done.
“We were looking for a target of about 45,” he said. “That’s where we wanted to be, and if we got more, that would be a bonus.”
He said Mercer has had 60 visits in recent weekends, and got 37 signees out of that.
“That’s a pretty good rate,” he said. “And we’re not done.”
The Bears will have another 30 on campus this weekend, during which the Mercer women’s and men’s basketball teams host East Tennessee State.
“We won’t get all 30 of those kids,” he said. “But if we got toward that 50 number, that would be a bonus.”
A number of area players made the intention to play at Mercer known during assorted signing day events.
The Bears picked up All-Middle Georgia first-team offensive lineman Ben East of Dublin as well as his twin brother and teammate, quarterback Rob. Rob East was the All-Middle Georgia third-team punter.
Jones County lineman Hunter Hartley signed with Mercer early in the day.
Mount de Sales end John Garrett Abernathy had committed before Wednesday.
“This is such a rare opportunity to be a part of the start of a new program,” he said. “I think this first class will be special.
“Coach Lamb has a great blueprint for the program, what it will become. He really sold me on it, and I’m really excited about helping him get started.”
Versatile Southwest back DaTaurius Miller also cast his lot with the hometown team, which doesn’t start until the 2013 season.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling, knowing that any great athlete would want to play, but we’re just going to take the time to build up strength and character to be ready to play in 2013,” said Miller, who accounted for more than 4,500 yards passing and rushing for the Patriots during his career. “When (that) first (game) rolls around, I’ll be ready to get on the field and get after it.”
Stratford announced that Mike Fox will sign with Mercer in a ceremony next week.
Mercer also got North Oconee running back David Pinkerton and Taylor Carter, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. The Rome News-Tribune reported that Matt Chastain of Gordon Central signed with Mercer.
The Neighbor Newspapers website in metro Atlanta reported four locals headed to Mercer: Johns Creek lineman Kirby Southard, Blessed Trinity lineman Thomas Pietro, Roswell wide receiver Thomas McCarter and Chattahoochee linebacker Tosin Aguebor.
Preston Pittman of Briarwood (Ala.) Christian signed, the Shelby County (Ala.) Reporter stated.
“We haven’t had any surprises,” Lamb said. “Everything’s pretty much fallen into place.”
Jonathan Heeter and Eric Moyer contributed to this story.