Diamond in the Rough: Tyler Mercer

Tyler Mercer is a 6’4” 285lbs senior inside offensive lineman for Prosper Eagles in Prosper, TX. Prosper High School is a 6A football program competing at one of the highest levels, for high schools, with a 5-1 record to start the year. Being on the varsity team since his sophomore year of high school, Tyler has used his physicality, football IQ, and selfishness to protect his quarterback and improve their run game. This year, Tyler has moved from playing guard to also playing center for his team. With his faith in Christ, Tyler has excelled in his academics and football careers, taking his talents to Tulane University. Being a December graduate, the three-star lineman is joining the Greenwave over the spring to get a head start on his college play.

I recently had a chance to interview Tyler Mercer:

Q: When did you start playing football?

“I started playing tackle football in the 5th grade.

Q: What are your hobbies off the football field?

“I love to spend time with my friends and family, and spending time at the lake is my favorite thing to do.”

Q: What is your favorite football memory?

“I think, my favorite memory in my high school career was beating Denton Guyer this year. It was the first time we had beaten them in program history, and the whole stadium stormed the field after the game. It was a surreal experience.”

Q: What have you learned about yourself from playing football?

“Playing football has taught me a lot about myself. The biggest thing is realizing that I cannot put my full identity into football. Football won’t always be there. Everyone’s football career ends at some point. I am lucky that mine is being extended for the next 4-5 years in college, but it eventually goes away. My identity is found in Jesus Christ who I know will always be there. The biggest thing I have realized is that I am a Christian that plays football. Not just a football player. Football is my avenue to do something I love and enjoy but also grow relationships and impact those around me and use my platform to spread love and positivity to others.”

Q: Besides football, what other sports do you play?

“In addition to football, I have played basketball, baseball, lacrosse and even soccer growing up. However, I decided to only play football and baseball in high school to focus more on them and eventually, after my sophomore year, decided to just focus on playing football.”

Q: How do you think it has helped you on the football field?

“Playing baseball and basketball a lot. They increased my agility and change of direction and I think that baseball has even helped me mentally with football in the aspect of seeing how being a lineman takes so much more than being just big and strong. There is a big mental aspect of the game that you have to understand to be an elite level lineman.”

Q: Are there any aspects you worked on during the past offseason?

“I worked a lot on my overall strength, but my main focus was trying to learn the center position. I switched from left tackle to center this year and so this off season was focused on getting comfortable playing the position and learning the different ins and outs of playing it.”

Q: What is your personal goal for the rest of the season?

“My personal goal is to win a district championship for Prosper. We have not won a district championship in district 5-6A because of how competitive it is with top teams like Allen, Denton Guyer, and Mckinney. So, winning a district championship would be huge. Then obviously, after that, working hard to get as far as we can in the playoffs.”

Q: What are your biggest strengths on the football field?

“One of my biggest strengths is my leadership and football IQ. As the center you have more responsibility to call the fronts, identify blitzes, and to make sure the whole O-line is on the same page. So that is what I have enjoyed doing. I also love getting to pour into my teammates and hopefully I give them a good example on what to do when they become seniors.”

Q: How would your teammates describe you?

“I would like to think they would describe me as a leader and someone they can go to for anything football related or not. At the end of the day, we are all brothers and need to take care of each other on and off the field.”

Q: What is an example of you overcoming adversity as an athlete?

“I herniated a disc in my back my sophomore year. I was 1 of only 3 sophomores pulled up to play on varsity and I was looking forward to playing but then a week before the season started, I injured my back and was told I was going to be out for the season. I was really upset, as anyone would be, because I love football and losing that for a year was hard. I do truly believe that injury has shaped me into the man and football player I am today. On the football aspect of things, it grew me so much mentally and sharpened my game. I did not give up on the season. Instead, I chose to take this as an opportunity to watch all the upperclassmen to see what they did good and bad and took parts and pieces of each of their playing techniques to make it into my own for my junior year when I was back playing. This was also a wakeup call for me because at this time my identity was in football. It was my everything. Seeing how quick it can be taken from you made me realize I needed to put my identity into something eternal, and that is when I gave my life to Christ and decided to pursue him with everything I have.”

Q: What is your favorite part of being an offensive lineman?

“My favorite part of being an offensive lineman is that we play for a purpose bigger than ourselves, because we don’t get the glory. We work our tails off daily and work as a unit for the sole purpose of being great. We don’t do it for the glory or new titles because we don’t get that anyways. We do it for the love of the game and to see our team succeed. Playing O-Line is a very selfless position and I love that it is.”

Q: Throughout your entire football career, have you always been an offensive lineman?

“Yes, I have played O-Line my entire football career. I have also played defensive line in my early high school years.”

Q: What NFL or college player do you model your game after or look up to?

“I like to model my game after Creed Humphrey (Kansas City Cheifs center) and Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis Colts guard). Both are just masters at their craft and Nelson is known for his physicality. Offensive line is a mean position, so physicality is key.”

Q: Who is your biggest role model off of the football field?

“My dad. He has always been so supportive and is exactly the kind of man I want to be when I grow up.”

Q: What did you like about the recruitment process, and are you glad it is over?

“The recruitment process was a lot. There are definitely good things and bad things about it, but my favorite thing was the opportunity to make relationships with coaches and also players around the country. There are some amazing coaches out there that I got to know through the process and a lot of amazing players that I got to meet on visits and camps. I wouldn’t necessarily say I am glad that it is over, but it has definitely been nice only being able to focus on Tulane and not having to focus on all the other schools I was considering. Now I can just focus on my high school season then get to college football.”

Q: How do you feel about attending Tulane next year?

“I am excited. It is a great institution so I will get a great education and football will be fun. I will be pushed to be the best I can be. The culture of the football team is awesome, and I am excited to join them and work hard to help the team in any way possible.”

Q: What made you pick Tulane as the college you want to attend?

“The relationships I have with the coaches is one reason. I trust them to make me the best football player I can be. Coach Roushar, the offensive line coach, just came from the Saints and has a bunch of coaching experience. He is a coach that cares about the little details, and I believe will develop me. Also, just how impressive the college is academically. I want to get a high education and also play at a high level, and I believe this is the perfect place for that.”

Q: How do you feel about being coached by Willie Fritz and the other coaching staff next year?

“I fully trust them to push me to reach my full potential and to continue winning.”

Q: Since you are graduating in December, are you heading to Tulane at all for spring training?

“Yes, the plan right now is to attend Tulane in the spring to join them for spring football practices and to get a start on my degree.”

Q: Anything outside of football that you are excited to experience in the city of New Orleans?

“Just to grow relationships with my teammates and other people at Tulane and to grow as a person there. The people I have already met are amazing people. I am also excited to eat the food signature to Louisiana.”