COACHING STAFF

Drew Cronic

Head Coach

Drew Cronic was named the 20th head football coach in Mercer University history on December 10, 2019. He spent the previous two seasons as the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C.

A native of Sharpsburg, Ga., Cronic is considered one of the more innovative offensive minds across all levels of college football. Driven by the motto “Raise the Bar”, he has posted a 47-6 record in four years as a head coach and has been named the AFCA Regional Coach of the Year all four seasons. He has also helped lead his teams to four straight conference titles – Reinhardt (2016), Furman (2017) and Lenoir-Rhyne (2018, 2019).

Cronic engineered one of the most impressive turnarounds in college football, taking Division II Lenoir-Rhyne from a 3-8 season in 2017 to a 25-3 record under his guidance the past two seasons. After being named the AFCA National Coach of the Year for the 2018 season, he led the Bears to a school record-tying 13 wins in 2019 and a second consecutive berth in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

LR carried a perfect season all the way to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs in 2019. Under his guidance, seven Bears were named All-Super Region 2 this year, led by Regional Defensive Player of the Year Jaquan Artis. The team ranked in the top eight in Division II in both rushing offense and rushing defense at seventh and eighth, respectively. LR recorded 30 plus turnovers on the year for the second straight season and the defense recorded 50 sacks during the 2019 campaign, which led the nation.

In his first season at Lenoir-Rhyne, Cronic guided the largest turnaround in the nation – from just three wins in 2017 to 12 in 2018. The seven-game improvement was the sixth-greatest mark in NCAA Division II history. Cronic's Bears won 12 straight games and were ranked No. 8 in the final national poll.

During the 2018 season, LR advanced to the NCAA Playoffs for the first time since 2014 and hosted a pair of playoff games for the first time since 2013. With a 43-21 win over Florida Tech, Lenoir-Rhyne advanced past the first round of the NCAA Playoffs for just the second time in program history and, after defeating Wingate, moved on to the quarterfinals.

Cronic's success did not come just on the field; he led a turnaround in the classroom as well. With his leadership, the Bears posted a team 3.0 grade-point-average for the first time in program history and Ronnie Clifton was named a Second Team Academic All-American. Clifton, Jonathan Nolan and Clayton Horn each earned Academic All-District distinctions. Clifton was the lone representative from the South Atlantic Conference to earn Academic All-American accolades.

Before his time at LR, Cronic was the Offensive Coordinator at Furman University. The Paladins were ranked as high as No. 22 in the nation and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.  Cronic spearheaded an offense that averaged 34 points a game and coached All-SoCon Second Team quarterback P.J. Blazeowski.

Before his second stint with Furman, Cronic coached at Reinhardt from 2012-16 and was instrumental in the startup of the program in November of 2011. For the first three seasons, Cronic served as Assistant Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for the Eagles before being named the head coach prior to the 2015 campaign.

Cronic directed Reinhardt to a nine-win 2015 season before a record-breaking year in 2016. The Eagles went 13-1, won the Mid-South Conference Championship and advanced to the NAIA National Quarterfinals. Reinhardt averaged 51.1 points per contest and totaled 550.6 yards of offense per game, ranking first in the nation in both categories.

The Eagles led the nation in rushing offense (360.0 ypg) and rushing touchdowns (71) while having the nation’s second highest passing efficiency (178.0) to go along with 25 touchdown passes. In addition, their defense finished second in the nation in points allowed (13.8 ppg) and sacks (46) and fifth in total defense at 283.5 yards per contest.

Cronic was twice named the Mid-South Conference West Division Coach of the Year and the AFCA NAIA Region I Coach of the Year. In 2016, Reinhardt produced 14 all-league picks and 24 academic all-conference honoree (both Mid-South Conference highs).

Cronic’s first stint at Furman lasted nine years (2002-10) as he served in several coaching roles including wide receivers, running backs, tight ends and recruiting coordinator. During his time there, the Paladins won a SoCon Title in 2004 and put together an 11-3 season in 2005, which ended with a trip to the national semifinals.

In 1999, Cronic began his coaching career after graduate school at James Madison where he served three seasons as receivers coach and assistant recruiting coordinator.  The Dukes won the Atlantic 10 Championship in his first year and earned a bid to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.

Cronic played quarterback for his father – Danny Cronic – at East Coweta High School before playing collegiately at Georgia. As a Bulldog, Cronic played wide receiver and was a member of the special teams – lettering twice and participated in the 1995 Peach Bowl and 1997 Outback Bowl.

Cronic received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Georgia in 1998 before earning his master’s degree in educational leadership in 1999 from the University of West Georgia.

Cronic and his wife, Amelia, have three sons: Noah, Elijah and Isaiah.


David A. Cole

Associate Head Coach / Cornerbacks / Special Teams

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bob Bodine

Offensive Coordinator & Offensive Line Coach

 

 

 

 

 


Tim Foster

Co-Offensive Coordinator

Tim Foster became head football coach Drew Cronic's first hire at Mercer when he was named the co-offensive coordinator on Dec. 16, 2019.

A native of Suwanee, Ga., Foster spent the last two seasons as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers/tight ends coach under Cronic at Lenoir-Rhyne, helping lead the Bears to an impressive 25-3 record and back-to-back South Atlantic Conference championships.

Foster guided the Bears to a top 20 ranking nationally in passing yards per completion (15.43) which aided the top scoring offense in the SAC at 42.00 points per game. Overall, the 2019 season was one for the record books for the Bears, tying a school record with 13 wins and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs.

In 2018, Foster directed wide receiver T.J. Smith and freshman tight end Drake Starks to second team all-conference honors. Smith became just the fifth player in school history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season and ranks third for single-season receiving yards.

Foster moved to LR after an outstanding three-year stint as an assistant coach at Reinhardt (2015-17), an NAIA school in Waleska, Ga. In his last year, the Eagles went 12-1 on the year and earned a berth in the NAIA National Championship game. Reinhardt led the nation in rushing (359.8 ypg) and ranked fifth in scoring offense at 47.0 points per contest.

In 2016, Reinhardt went 13-1 on the year and advanced to the national semifinals – ranking first in scoring offense (51.4 ppg) and rushing offense (360.0 ypg). In his three years with the Eagles, Foster served as Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, Z-Backs, Field Goal Team and Return Coach and Video Coordinator. Reinhardt also won three straight Mid-South Conference Championships.

Prior to Reinhardt, Foster coached at his alma mater, Maryville College in Tennessee, for two years as defensive graduate assistant, linebackers coach and video coordinator. Foster was part of the 2013 USA South Conference Championship squad.

Foster was a two-sport athlete at Maryville – playing tight end/wide receiver and on the men’s basketball team – before earning his bachelor’s degree in communications from the college in 2012.

Foster and his wife, Amanda, have two sons, Jaxon and Levi.


Joel Taylor

Defensive Coordinator

Joel Taylor joined head football coach Drew Cronic's coaching staff as the defensive coordinator on Dec. 17, 2019.

Taylor, a four-year letterwinner and team captain at South Carolina State, joins the Mercer coaching staff following one season as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Lenoir-Rhyne under Cronic.

During the 2019 season at Lenoir-Rhyne, he helped lead the Bears to a school-record 13 wins and guided senior defensive end Jaquan Artis to D2CCA All-Super Region 2 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Under Taylor, the Bears led the South Atlantic Conference and ranked in the top 20 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense. Taylor’s defensive unit also recorded 3.57 sacks per game – which ranked 11th among all Division II, FCS and FBS teams in 2019.

At The Citadel in 2018, Taylor directed a defensive secondary that saw junior Aron Spann III land among the national leaders in interceptions for much of the season and Kailik Williams earn Defensive Player of the Year honors in the preseason.

Taylor helped lead The Citadel to a number of achievements in 2016. The Bulldogs put together a program-record 10-game winning streak, set a single-season school record with six road victories, won a second consecutive conference championship, earned a No. 6 national seed in the FCS Playoffs and hosted the first home playoff game in 24 years.

In 2015, The Citadel earned a Southern Conference co-championship and finished 9-4 overall after advancing to the second round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs for only the second time in school history.

Taylor helped South Carolina State earn a share of the MEAC championship in 2013, marking his third title with the Bulldogs. That squad was paced by a dominant defense that led the country in total defense, rushing defense and defensive pass efficiency and ranked second against the pass. They were led by All-MEAC safety Kimario McFadden, who signed a free agent deal with the Falcons in 2014, marking the eighth S.C. State defensive back in five years to make an NFL roster.

In 2011, the S.C. State secondary, led by All-MEAC defensive backs Thompson and Ellis, finished 10th in the nation in defensive pass efficiency. The previous season, Taylor took a unit of four first-year starters in the secondary and helped lead them to a No. 1 ranking in pass defense and No. 2 in pass efficiency in the nation. Additionally, the defense finished tops in the nation in total defense and 17th in interceptions, spearheaded by Ellis and Moody.

He also coached at S.C. State from 2004-08 and was the outside linebackers coach at Lenoir-Rhyne in 2009.

Taylor lettered all four seasons as a defensive back at S.C. State from 2001-04. He was named team captain and defensive MVP during his senior campaign when he helped lead the team to the MEAC championship. As a junior, Taylor was a member of a squad that led the nation in defensive pass efficiency.

A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Taylor grew up in Irmo, S.C. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2004 and a master’s in rehabilitation counseling in 2008, both from South Carolina State University. He is married to the former Mechelle Robertson.


Mike Adams

Safetys Coach / Pass Game Coordinator

College Coaching Experience:

  • Mercer - Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers (2019-Present)
  • Charleston Southern - Safeties/Special Teams Coordinator (2016-18)
    • Bucs ranked fourth & 22nd among FCS teams in passing yards allowed & total defense in 2018
    • Played key role in Charleston Southern ranking as a FCS top-25 defense in all three years on staff
  • South Alabama - Linebackers/Safeties (2014-16)
    • Helped Jaguars reach 2014 Camellia Bowl & 2016 Arizona Bowl
  • South Carolina State - Defensive Coordinator (2006-14)
    • Was 2013 FCS Defensive Coordinator of the Year finalist
    • Helped Bulldogs go 64-30 overall & 52-12 in MEAC over nine seasons
    • Bulldogs won at least a share of four MEAC titles & reached FCS Playoffs four times
    • Guided a unit that led FCS in total defense, rush defense, passing efficiency defense, sacks & tackles for loss in 2013
    • Bulldogs also led FCS in total defense, rush defense & passing defense in 2010
    • Led SCSU to top-10 ranking in total defense four total times
    • Coached eight players who reached NFL: Phillip Adams, Rafael Bush, Dominique Ellis, Jakar Hamilton, Kimario McFadden, Marshall McFadden, Joe Thomas & Christian Thompson
  • West Georgia - Defensive Backs/Special Teams Coordinator (2001-05)
  • St. Joseph's College - Running Backs/Wide Receivers/Defensive Backs (1998-00)
  • Ball State - Linebackers Student Assistant (1997-98)

Education:

  • Ball State, 1998 (B.A., Sports Administration)

Personal:

  • Wife: Natasha
  • Children: Nataysuan & Sasha

Sumner Ellis

Defensive End Coach & Defensive Recrutiting Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 


La'Donte Harris

Wide Recievers Coach / Offensive Recruiting Coordinator

Collegiate Coaching Experience:

  • Mercer – Wide Receivers/Co-Recruiting Coordinator (2017-Present)
    • 2018
      • Mentored senior WR Marquise Irvin, who caught 54 passes for school single-season record 814 receiving yards
      • Irvin left Mercer as a three-time All-SoCon selection & the school's career leader in receptions, yards & touchdowns
      • Oversaw a breakout freshman season by David Durden, who had 407 receiving yards & 5 receiving TDs on 18 receptions
      • Durden named HERO Sports FCS Freshman All-American Honorable Mention & SoCon All-Freshman Team pick
      • Developed Stephen Houzah as a wide receiver after three years as a defensive back; Houzah caught 30 passes for 504 yards & four TDs
      • Influential in the signing of a 22-man 2019 recruiting class that ranked among the nation's best
    • 2017
      • Helped lead Mercer to an average of 332.4 total offense yards & 189.0 passing yards per game
      • Led three Mercer receivers to 22-plus catches & 300-plus receiving yards
      • Mentored Chandler Curtis & Marquise Irvin during All-SoCon seasons
      • Helped Mercer haul in 17-man recruiting class that included 14 in-state players for 2018 season
  • Gardner-Webb – Wide Receivers Coach (2013-16)
    • Helped lead the Runnin’ Bulldogs to 20 wins over four seasons
    • Established an ability to develop talent, guiding receiver Kenny Cook & tight end Seth Cranfill to record-setting successes
    • Cranfill set Big South records for single-game, single season & career receptions & earned FCS All-America honors (2014)
    • Cook led Big South in catches (76), yards (1,008) & touchdowns (9) en route to FCS All-America honors (2013)
  • North Greenville – Wide Receivers/Tight Ends Coach (2012)
    • Led a receivers/tight ends unit that caught nine touchdowns
    • Top targets (Freddie. Martino & T. Jones) combined for 78 catches, 848 yards & six touchdowns)
    • Helped lead Crusaders to wins in five of their final six games, including four over South Atlantic Conference members
  • Clemson – Player Development (2011)
    • Worked with Tigers’ offense from a strength & conditioning standpoint
    • Experienced success with an ACC title & a final ranking of No. 22 (2011)
  • Clemson – Graduate Assistant (2009-10)
    • Primarily worked with Tigers’ wide receivers as a two-year graduate assistant
    • Mentored future NFL players including speedster Jacoby Ford & Sammy Watkins
    • Played a role in Clemson’s high-octane system that produced 6,171 total yards & 33 passing touchdowns (2010)
    • Helped Watkins finish 2010 season ranked 16th nationally in receiving yards & fourth in all-purpose yardage

Collegiate Playing Experience:

  • Clemson, 2004-07
    • Lettered at receiver for the Tigers, seeing action in 47 career games
    • Finished career with 24 catches for 223 yards & two touchdowns
    • Caught a career-best 12 passes for 136 yards & a score (2007)
    • Returned a punt for a 19-yard touchdown vs. South Carolina (2007)
    • One of only two true freshmen to see action in all 11 games (2004)

Education:

  • Clemson, 2008 (B.A., Sports Management)

Personal

  • Born: August 13, 1986
  • Harris & his wife, Britney, have one daughter – Liyah

Jimmy Long

Defensive Line Coach / Run Game Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 


Kevin O'Brien

Tight Ends Coach

O’Brien comes to Mercer from the University of Tennessee where he served as a quality control analysis. Prior to his time as Vol, O’Brien offensive graduate assistant at his alma mater, Colorado State. There he primarily worked with the offense for two seasons.

As a player, O’Brien appeared in 22 games, including starting at center as a junior and leading the Rams to a 10-3 record. O’Brien and the Rams’ offensive line helped the team surpass 670 yards on two occasions. O’Brien spent one season at Incarnate Word before transferring to CSU.

 


John Russ

Running Backs Coach

 

 

 

 

 


Bennett Houston – Director of Football Operations

Jordan Marshall – Director of On-Campus Recruiting/Digital Media

Casey O’Brien – Equipment Manager