If you had asked me at the end of the Averett game last season, how it looked for 2012, I would have been realistic, but at the same time optimistic. The 2011 campaign was a great start for first year coach David Harper and his troops. In that year, Ferrum ended the season 7-3, with one conference loss, and were playing for the conference title game against Christopher Newport.
With all that in mind, I would, in looking toward the 2012 season, have said, The offense will be somewhat challenged by the loss of Mayo, and some key offensive linemen, but the rest of the team should be solid.
As it seems to be turning out, Ferrum is in the midst of getting younger. The offensive line who lost Michael Walker(s), Jack McDowell(s) and Ivan Eames to graduation, is also going to be missing Center Chris Bossio(s), and Tight Ends Chris Duble, and Matt Ball(s). Along with this, Long Snapper Tavis Henry has transferred. OL Kipp Jennings has also transferred. It looks like the O-line will only return 2 starters, Cam Bailey and J.L. Tyree from last season. This news is bad enough, but that is not all of the bad news. Running back Dominique Lesine(s), and his brother Devin Lesine have both transferred.
We can look forward to the return of Makaya Jackson for his Senior season, along with Tyler Brubaker, and Derrick West as receivers. At running back, look for Tae Gilbert to return, but beyond that the running back corp will for the most part be young and inexperienced.
As for Quarterback, Tim Reynolds will likely be the starter, but his playing time last year was limited. If he has a strong offensive line, and can stay healthy, look for Reynolds to improve as time goes on.
As for the offensive line, this could easily be compared to Swiss cheese....lots of holes. Gone are Jack McDowell, Zach Bossio, and Michael Walker. I look for J.L.Tyree, and Cam Bailey to be the only experienced players returning. Recruiting efforts have been fast and furious I am sure, and from what I have found on the Internet, there has been some success. Among those headed to Ferrum this fall will be Ryan Ward out of West Stokes High School in King, N.C. According to the West Stokes Wildcats website, Ryan made it official by signing a letter of intent (non binding) to attend Ferrum. Ryan's High School coach Jimmy Upchurch, commented on the West Stokes website, that Ryan was "the most dominating offensive lineman I’ve ever coached or
seen in high school." Continuing about Ryan, Upchurch said "let me tell you something, this kid’s a football player, a real football
player, he’ll beat anybody on our team
one-on-one. We’ve got kids 6-6, 350 pounds and he’ll mow them down.
I’ve coached a lot of kids and I’ll put him up against anybody I’ve ever
This is very high praise, and I am sure it is well deserved, but I expect he will have a lot to adjust to in college. New system, and new offensive schemes. Make no mistake about it however, this is a huge recruiting coup for Ferrum, and while I am glad to see it, I am still unsure who will fill the rest of the holes on the offensive line....stay tuned.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ferrum should be fairly strong. Josh Oliver will lead the defensive front, along with Shawn Winfrey on the inside, while Chris Freycinet, and Lynwood Pickett will anchor the ends of the line.
The Panthers linebacker corps will all return, with the exception of Tremain Whitney, who graduated. Look for Melvin Trotter, Jatavious Adams, and Akeem Boyce to bring good experience to the linebacker position this season. Ferrum seems to have good depth at this position, and according to reports, have picked up Jordan Hudson, a recruit from West Davidson High School (NC) Hudson was named to the All Davidson County team in 2011 as a linebacker.
In the secondary, I expect Ferrum will again be solid as they were in 2011. They played as a much improved unit in 2011, but the loss of Delano Hall to graduation leaves a hole to fill. Hall was instrumental in Ferrum's turnaround in the secondary, and his replacement will have to step up immediately to continue the good fortune of 2011.
Special Teams will again be led by Scott Puschell, and Wesley Franklin. Look for their numbers to be amoung the conference's best by season's end.As for returners, I expect Tae Gilbert to be used on kickoffs, and look for Tim Reynolds to possibly get the call on punt returning.
In summation, I think Ferrum will contend, but may be slow out of the gate. If they are able to win 2 of their first three games, and start the conference schedule with a win over Averett, momentum may be in their favor the next week in Newport News. Should be an interesting season.