In 1986, Ferrum entered the world of Division III football. Until then, the Panthers had had huge success on the field playing as a Junior College. Since the inception of football in 1955, Ferrum had won four National Junior College Athletic Association national championships, and had been runner up in one contest. There were many great players who had graced the field while Ferrum was a Junior College. With the transition to DIII in 1986, Ferrum entered a new realm of competition. It was thought by many that Ferrum had stepped too far out of their comfort zone, and would have a hard time being a force in this league.
While there have been both good years and not so successful campaigns since 86, no one can argue the 1988, and 1989 teams have been the two most successful teams in the D3 era for Ferrum.
In those years, Ferrum went to the playoffs, and made it both years to the national semi finals. They had great seasons and playoff runs led by a host of top notch players, but two seemed to stand out above the rest in their time in the Black and Gold.
David Harper - A linebacker who went on to take quite a prominent place in the Ferrum record book. Harper still holds the record for most total tackles in a game (25), most total tackles in a season (161), and most total tackles in a career (421) most solo tackles in a season (61), and holds the second highest number of solo tackles in a career (155)
Chris Warren - A running back who transferred form University of Virginia, and who also lit up the Ferrum record book. Warren holds the record for scoring the most points in a season (138), second all time for scoring the most points in a career (270), total touchdowns in a season (23) is fourth on the list for total touchdowns in a career (45) Is tied for first for rushing touchdowns in a season (17) is fourth for total rushing yards in a season (1443) and is third for the most yards in a career (2708). It is important to note that Warren was only at Ferrum for two seasons!
Beyond Ferrum, Chris Warren went on to play for 11 seasons in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a premiere athlete, and is under consideration for the NFL Hall of Fame.
To look back at the careers of these two Ferrum greats, it is no wonder that they are in the Ferrum sports Hall of Fame, and that they to date, are the only two Ferrum players with their numbers retired. This is a sacred honor, and it has only been done twice since 1955.
I am well aware that the retirement of a number makes it more difficult for a coach to outfit his players, but there have been many times that two players have worn the same number......they just cannot be on the field at the same time.
With this post I want to put forth my recommendation that Ferrum College retire the number 5, in honor of the stellar college career of Brian Mann. The records and accolades he has received in his time at Ferrum are astounding. Currently, Brian either holds the record or is tied for the top spot in the following:
- Most Points in a game (30) 2x
- Most Points in a Career (316)
- Most Rushing touchdowns in a game (5) 2x
- Most Rushing touchdowns in a season (17)
- Most Rushing touchdowns in a career (50)
- Most Rushing attempts in a season (274) (Also holds record for second and third most rushing attempts in a season)
- Most Rushing attempts in a career (875)
- Most yards rushing in a game (260) Also holds second and third most yards rushing in a game (258) (254-2x)
- Most rushing yards in a season (1605),(1556),(1459)
- Most yards rushing in a career (5013)
Additional Honors For Brian Mann
- 7X USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week: 9/5/16, 9/12/16, 9/19/16, 10/3/16, 10/10/16, 10/24/16, 10/31/16
- Set school record for single game rushing yards with 254 vs. LaGrange, 10/22/16
- D3football Team of the Week, 10/25/16
- Set new school record for single game all-purpose yards (344) vs. Methodist, 10/29/16 (205 rush, 139 KR)
- Named WDBJ-7 Anchor All-Star, 10/29/16 (watch video)
- Set new school record for season rushing attempts (259), 2016
- Set new school record for season rushing yards (1453), 2016
- USA South All-Conference 1st team (RB) & 2nd team (RS), 2016
- USA South Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2016
- VaSID All-State first team, 2016
- VaSID Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2016
- Roanoke Times All-State first team, 2016
- Touchdown Club of Richmond Willie Lanier Award Finalist, 2016
- Roanoke Times Small College Offensive Player of the Year, 2016
- Set school record for single game rushing TD with 5 vs. LaGrange, 10/14/17
- Tied school records for single game rushing yards (254) and single game points (30) vs. LaGrange, 10/14/17
- 4X USA South Offensive Player of the Week: 10/16/17, 10/23/17, 10/30/17, 11/6/17
- D3football.com Team of the Week, 10/17/17
- Roanoke Times All-State 2nd team, 2017
- USA South All-Conference first team, 2017
- USA South Offensive Player of the Year, 2017
- D3football.com All-Region 3rd team, 2017
- VaSID All-State 1st team, 2017
- Roanoke Times All-State 2nd team, 2017
- ODAC Football Offensive Player of the Week, 10/28/18
- Google Cloud Academic All-District 1st team, 2018
- ODAC All-Conference 1st team, 2018
- ODAC Academic All-Conference, 2018
- D3football.com All-Region 2nd team, 2018
- American Football Coaches Association All-America 2nd team, 2018
- Google Cloud Academic All-America 2nd team, 2018
- VaSID All-State first team, 2018
- VaSID Academic All-State, 2018-19
- D3football.com Preseason All-America 2nd team, 2019
While Brian did not have an ideal Senior season due to an injury, his body of work speaks for itself. Many of the records he now holds were once held by Chris Warren. He has been an excellent example, both on and off the field. And for me personally, it has been a pleasure to watch him. He is one of the best ever to wear the black and gold, and enshrinement into the Ferrum Athletics Hall of Fame is a lock.
This young man has been an excellent example of how Ferrum football is played, and his accomplishments and abilities, in my opinion, make him an ideal candidate for the retirement of his jersey.....#5.