Fall camp begins in three days. This will allow the coaches to see exactly who will be trying to get on this years roster. I would expect for the Panthers to have anywhere from 100-115 in camp...maybe more. This will diminish as camp goes on and some determine that football on this level is not for them.
From a fans perspective, I am excited about the upcoming season. With the loss of players to graduation, and due to some transferring, I am guessing that the coaches will be pushing to get their 22 starters set for the first game on Sept. 1st. ( vs. Emory and Henry @ Ferrum). While the loss of some players does bother me, there are a lot of things to look forward to.
I look for Ferrum to have very good speed in the backfield. Tim Reynolds and Tae Gilbert will get most of the carries, but look for contributions from many of the other backs....even freshmen.
The offensive line has question marks as far as experience goes, but this is a unit that will be molded as time goes on. Due to the fact that Ferrum will run an option offense, the O line must be good, but they do not have to be filled with BCS type players. I think things will fall into place on the O line.
Ferrum can take a huge step this season by defeating Emory and Henry in the season opener. The Wasps were picked to finish 5th in the ODAC, but they have lately had Ferrum's number. Ferrum has not beaten E&H since 2005, when they defeated the Wasps 29-13, at Emory and Henry. This game has huge implications. If Ferrum can win convincingly, it will send a signal to those in the USA South, that Ferrum may have enough to carry the conference crown to the playoffs. A win on September 1st. by Ferrum, and it is possible, quite possible, that Ferrum could be undefeaed on Oct. 6th when they travel to Newport News to take on the Captains of CNU.
Much of the responsibility for Ferrum's success will fall squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Tim Reynolds. Reynolds a rising sophomore, replaces Marcus Mayo. Reynolds had a strong high school career, and looked good in his appearences last season. He brings speed to the position, but I have no idea about his arm strength. It would be a pleasant surprise if it compared favorably to Mayo's, but I am not expecting that. Mayo's arm strength was exceptional, and that is a rare quality.
In my opinion, Reynolds needs to initially focus on moving his team down the field, ten yards at a time, playing mistake free football, and developing a flow and rythym with his offense.
For Ferrum to win, and contend this year, they have to be solid against the run. Their defensive front is strong and experienced, and I look for the front four to dominate this season.
I believe that the Panthers will be fine this season. They have the experience returning on defense, and I look for their offense to be one of the best in the conference, but it may have to climb to that position. it's gonna be a good year, and camp opens in three days.