The Western Mustangs have a new quarterback for the fall 2016 season as they announced the addition of Chris Merchant to their 2016 recruiting class on Monday.
Merchant has spent the past two seasons on the Buffalo Bulls, an NCAA Division I university.
“When Chris told us he was leaving Buffalo we knew it would be a great fit both athletically and academically,” Western head coach Greg Marshall said in a press release.
“Chris is a great athlete, and brings a strong arm to our program with a skill set that suits our offensive scheme," Marshall added. "He is a high character young man that we know he will be a great fit in our locker room and a great addition to the Western community.”
Merchant was the top ranked Canadian quarterback recruit in 2014, when he joined the Bulls after two successful seasons at St. Andrew's College.
"I am both honoured and excited for the opportunity to become a student and athlete at such a well-respected university," Merchant said in the press release. "I will do everything I can to live up to Western's tradition of excellence.”
Merchant had been on the Mustangs' radar and had been recruited coming out of playing for his high school team, St. Andrew's College.
Marshall praised Merchant's athletic ability, adding that he was anticipating his addition to the team.
"Last time I saw him up close and personal and watched him play was a couple of years ago, so from what i have seen he's progressed," Marshall said in an interview. "I'm sure he's got very good coaching, but once he's here and we're coaching him in camp, what our job is to do is to use his strengths and adapt our system around what he does well. We're not going to change Chris Merchant over night, so what we have to do is to make sure the things that we do complement his strengths."
Merchant's addition raises questions as to who will be taking over as the Mustangs' quarterback, as the team roster has a number of potentials, including fifth year social science student Stevenson Bone. Bone replaced Mustangs quarterback Will Finch after he retired from the sport following a third concussion in January.
"[Bone] has got a lot of experience now and he's played well at the end of last season," Marshall added. "Certainly we expect that Chris will come in and be competitive. We had a couple of good freshes from last year – Kevin John and Ben Bergamin – who also competed well, so it's good to have some depth to that position as we found out last year; when Will [Finch] got hurt, we just didn't have the depth to that spot."
According to Marshall, the team hasn't made any decisions on who will fill the position, and will wait to see the athletes' performances during training camp and in-game situations.