Mercer University’s football program – which begins play in the fall of 2013 – took two more giant steps forward in reinstating the sport on campus. MU head coach Bobby Lamb has announced the hiring of Carroll McCray as assistant head coach/offensive line coach and Jeff Farrington as defensive coordinator, putting in place the core foundation for the Bears’ coaching staff and recruiting efforts.
The additions of McCray and Farrington also gives Mercer a distinct advantage in familiarity and continuity not found in many start-up programs, as both men have worked with Lamb, previously. As a part of Furman University’s football staff, Farrington was the defensive coordinator for all nine seasons of Lamb’s tenure as the head coach of the Paladins, while McCray spent four years as Lamb’s offensive line coach.
“These hirings are so important because it means that Mercer Football will have three experienced, knowledgeable and cohesive voices representing Bears’ football on the recruiting trail,” said Lamb. “Having previously worked with Carroll and Jeff, I know there won’t be any differences in what we want to accomplish. We are all on the same page from the outset and know exactly what we need to do to bring in the right type of student-athlete that fits Mercer University and to build a quality football program for middle Georgia region and the nation.
“Both of these men, like me, have extensive experience and knowledge in recruiting the state of Georgia, as well as the southeast region and beyond. That is key as we assemble our first recruiting class and strive toward the goals for Mercer Football and the mission of the University as a whole.”
McCray brings a wealth of coaching savvy and experience to the Bears’ staff, while also helping his players to ample post-season recognition during his career. In addition to his tenure as Lamb’s offensive line coach, McCray was also the head coach at Austin Peay University for four seasons (2003-2006). The Governors’ program was a non-scholarship program, which should prove to be valuable experience as Mercer will also participate in Division I non-scholarship football competition.
McCray’s coaching road has also taken him to Mississippi State, where he coached the centers and offensive guards for two seasons (2001-02). Prior to that, he spent seven seasons (1994-2000) as the offensive line coach for Samford University and was an assistant coach at South Carolina for five campaigns (1989-93), working with the Gamecocks’ offensive line, tight ends, H-backs and special teams players.
McCray’s coaching career began at Appalachian State as a graduate assistant in 1984 – working with tight ends and tackles – before a three-year run as the Mountaineers’ inside linebackers coach (1986-88).
McCray was a three-year letterwinner on the offensive line at Gardner-Webb University, graduating in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in social science. He also earned his master’s degree in social science from Appalachian State in 1985. He and his wife, Angel, have a son, Trey, and a daughter, Meredith.
“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to be a part of the re-emergence of Mercer University’s football program,” said McCray. “It’s not very often in the coaching profession that you get the chance to be in on the ground floor of building what will, without a doubt, become a great football program. Mercer’s commitment to the program is obvious and I’m proud to align myself with such an outstanding academic institution, where the proper balance between athletics and academics is a priority.
“I am also thrilled to again be able to coach alongside Bobby Lamb. He is a great coach and one who is going to set the bar high when it comes to Mercer University football.”
Farrington-led defensive units at Furman were among the Southern Conference statistical leaders more often than not, as well as producing numerous post-season award winners from the Paladins’ roster. Farrington’s defensive units were a key reason the Furman team made appearances in the NCAA I-AA playoffs four times (2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006), reaching the national semi-final game in 2005.
Prior to joining the Paladins’ staff, Farrington was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for East Tennessee State University for five seasons (1997-2001), where three of his defensive players signed NFL contracts. From 1992-96, he was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at West Georgia College, directing units that ranked among the NCAA II national statistical leaders, as well.
Farrington’s coaching resume also includes a year as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Presbyterian University (1991), as well as at Lenoir-Rhyne College (1987-90). He cut his coaching teeth, on a full-time basis, as East Carolina’s outside linebackers coach in 1985. He worked as a graduate assistant coach at Florida State (1984), East Carolina (1983) and for his alma mater, The Citadel (1982), where he earned two varsity letters as a defensive back.
Farrington earned his Bachelor of Science degree from The Citadel in physical education in 1982. He is a native of Winston-Salem, N.C. and is married to the former Traci Shea Pittington. The couple has two children: daughter Sydney and son Bobby.
“To be together again with Bobby and Carroll is a great opportunity,” said Farrington. “There is a definite ‘comfort level’ to starting up a program and already having a close working relationship with the head coach and the top offensive assistant, as well. It just gives Mercer Football a little something extra when we hit the recruiting trail.
“It is truly a great honor to be able to represent a fine academic institution like Mercer and to be able to coach young men who get it done on the field and in the classroom. I’m looking forward to not just coaching football, but also developing young men who are tomorrow’s leaders in their chosen profession.”
From: Mercer Sports Information