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Peach State Native Returns Home

By Matthew Golden
SouthernPigskin.com
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Drew Cronic, a former Georgia Bulldog wide receiver, will take the helm and become the Mercer Bears’ 20th head coach in program history.

Drew Cronic, a former Georgia Bulldog wide receiver, will take the helm and become the Mercer Bears’ 20th head coach in program history.

Cronic, a native of Sharpsburg, Georgia, played quarterback in high school under his father, Danny Cronic, at East Coweta High School and will now head back to his home state to return to coaching at the FCS level. The Bears’ new offensive mind played receiver and special teams at the University of Georgia in the ‘90s, appearing in the 1995 Peach Bowl against Virginia and the 1998 Outback Bowl in which the Bulldogs crushed Wisconsin 33-6.

Cronic’s coaching career began as a graduate assistant at West Georgia, in 1999. After his time with the Wolves, Cronic was a member of James Madison’s coaching staff, where he was the receivers coach and assistant recruiting coordinator until 2001.

While Drew Cronic will take over his first head coaching position in the Southern Conference, he’s no stranger to the league. The former Bulldog began his first of two stints with the Furman Paladins in 2002, where he coached wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends, along with being the program’s recruiting coordinator. He would maintain these positions until 2011, when Cronic left Furman for Reinhardt University.

Cronic was a large part of Reinhardt's football program startup in 2011. He would take over the responsibilities as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, and recruiting coordinator before becoming the head coach in 2015.

Following the 2016 season, the Bears’ new mentor would depart Reinhardt and begin his second stint at Furman, becoming the Paladins’ offensive coordinator. During the 2017 season, Furman would be ranked as high as 22nd in the nation, making it to the second round of the FCS playoffs.

Cronic’s next stop landed him in Hickory, North Carolina as he was named the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University, taking over a Division II program that won just three games the previous year. Cronic would impressively turn around the team’s direction, leading them to a twelve-win season in 2018, earning him the AFCA National Coach of the Year Award. Lenoir-Rhyne finished 8th in the final national poll, winning twelve games in a row after dropping their season opener in their 2018 campaign. Cronic’s Bears advanced past the first round of the NCAA playoffs for just the second time in school history.

Cronic’s success continued into the 2019 season as Lenoir-Rhyne won 13 games, tying a school record. The Bears were an unbeaten 13-0 heading into the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs before dropping a matchup against #20 West Florida. Cronic engineered a top eight rushing offense and defense in Division II. Impressively, the Bears' defense recorded fifty total sacks, leading the nation.

Now, Drew Cronic finds himself coaching the Bears again, this time 280 miles southwest, in Macon, Georgia. The Mercer Bears parted ways with former coach Bobby Lamb on November 24th, despite his owning an above .500 record since his tenure began in 2011. Two weeks later, Mercer landed an innovative offensive mind to lead the program.

Last season, Mercer finished 4-8 overall, going 3-5 in the Southern Conference. Cronic will have some work to do, as the Bears finished with the third worst offense, and the second worst defense, statistically, in the SoCon. In a run heavy league, you can imagine that owning the conference’s most limited rushing attack didn’t bode well for the Bears. Fortunately for Mercer fans, Cronic’s innovate ground game philosophy should propel them to a top offense in the conference, as the Bears already showed potential in the pass game last season.

Finally for Cronic, after several different stops over a number of years, he finds himself back in the Peach State, ready to lead the Bears.