Fans are getting their first look at Mercer University's new football team as practices begin in Macon.
The NCAA Division I Bears are scheduled to play Reinhardt University at the end of the month in what will be their first game since Mercer put football on hold for World War II.
At a meet-and-greet with reporters Tuesday, free safety Sytavious Brown said he feels like he's come a long way from his days playing for Crisp County High School.
"We're going have at least 12,000-plus fans," Brown said. "I mean, that's going to be a great experience, I've never played in front of that many people."
Tickets for the August 31 season opener at Mercer's new stadium sold out in 27 minutes in July.
Defensive end Hank Avery is a Macon native who transferred to Mercer after two years as a scholarship player at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
"We played against Nortre Dame and Michigan, and when it comes to that level everybody's a little bit faster, and everybody's a little bit bigger," Avery said of his old team. "But here [at Mercer], talent-wise, our ability is the same, our character is the same, we're probably just maybe an inch or two shorter."
The roster might get a little taller next year — Mercer will start offering football scholarships when they jump to the Southern Conference in fall of 2014.