Luckily, the cast Tony Perella was sporting Thursday afternoon wasn’t on his writing hand. Otherwise, it might have been difficult for the Lakeside High lineman to sign his letter of intent to play football for Mercer University.
“That was pretty cool,” said Perella afterward. “It’s nice not to be the one watching someone (else) sign.”
Mercer, in Macon, Ga., discontinued its football program in 1941, but will resume playing in 2013 as a member of the Pioneer Football League.
Besides having to practice against the same guys for a year, the delay isn’t disconcerting to Perella.
“I’ll get to focus on my academics for a few months,” said Perella, who will use the time to rehab the left hand that required an operation in January. “Because of my situation, it gives me more time to gain strength.”
The combination of academics and athletics was what ultimately drew him to the university.
“They have great academics over there and the new facility they’re building over there is state-of-the-art,” said Perella, who plans to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become an engineer. “Other than Georgia and Georgia Tech, it’s the best one.”
His academic performance was the thing that Panthers head football coach Jarrett Troxler thought made the difference.
“He’s worked hard and done a great job in the classroom and that’s the reason Mercer is on his radar,” said Troxler.
Perella was also excited to be able to do something he’s always thought about.
“To get the opportunity to play at the college level,” he said. “It’s special.”