Ferrum continues it's push toward a possible conference championship, and while I am sure the Panthers success is a result of a total team effort, there are a few players who statistically are ranked as some of the top DIII players in the nation.
Punter/Kicker Wesley Franklin
This Junior from Morganton North Carolina, has had an excellent season to this point. In the punting department, Wesley started the season by being ranked the 18th best punter in the nation after the Emory and Henry game. As the season has gone on, his consistent performances have been very important to the teams success.
After week three, Franklin had dropped to 21st in the nation, but this is still very impressive as there are 240 teams in Division III.
By week six, Franklin had moved to 14th in the nation.
Wesley has continued to excel, and currently sits ranked 8th nationally, and first in the conference.
Franklin also handles kickoff duties for the Panthers. His accuracy, and his ability to pooch kick is uncanny. It restricts the opponents ability to get a good kickoff return, and forces them into poor field position most of the time.
The role he has played in the Panthers success is undeniable. He is a great weapon in the armory.
Quarterback Tim Reynolds
In his first year as a starter, Reynolds has definitely made this "his team". After serving as the backup to Marcus Mayo last year, this Junior from Arlington, Va., brings some of the same skills of his predecessor, and is making a solid impression. Reynolds is a dual threat as not only a passer, but is the leading rusher for the Panthers.
In the passing department, Reynolds has thrown for a total of 1276 yards, and completed 9 passes for touchdowns. His passing efficiency rating has been very strong throughout the season. His best was a 29th in the nation rating , but at one point had dropped to 60th. Currently, Tim is 43rd. in the nation for passing efficiency...out of 240 teams.
On the ground, Reynolds has an average of 5.1 yards per carry with an overall total of 677 yards, for an 84.6 yards per game average. This currently puts him 85th in the nation. This is really impressive as he has the passing responsibilities also....this is likely not the case for most of those ranked in front of him.
Overall, Reynolds continues to impress, and provides much of the spark of the Panthers 88th ranked offense.
Running Back Tyler Brubaker
If you are looking for an all purpose player, you need to look no further than Tyler Brubaker. Brubaker, a Senior from Rocky Mount Va., started his athletics career on the Ferrum football team as a quarterback, and on the baseball team as an outfielder. Brubaker soon made the decision to focus on just football, and the gridiron Panthers are a better team for it.
In Bru's first year, he appeared in one game...against Methodist, but accumulated no statistics. In his sophomore year, he was utilized mostly as a receiver, and caught 7 passes for 155 yards and 1 touchdown. Ironically, in that same game against Maryville, he threw a pass, his only pass of the year, for nine yards, and a touchdown.
Tyler has also been used as a punter...in a fake situation, a return specialist, and now as a running back. This year running back has been his his primary assignment, along with return specialist duties. As a running back, Tyler has picked up 394 rushing
yards on 56 carries, and has scored 4 rushing touchdowns. He has also been targeted on many pass plays, and has 23 receptions for 349 yards, and three receiving touchdowns.
As a return specialist, Brubaker has 13 kickoff returns, for 263 yards, and 10 punt returns for 135 yards. For punt returns, Brubaker is ranked 16th nationally, and ranked 35th nationally for all purpose runners.
Defensive Back Tarrell Owens
If there is a safe way for someone to catch fire, Tarrell Owens has found it. As a starting defensive back for the Panthers, This Junior from Sterling, Va., has really come on strong this season. Things got started against Southern Virginia University where Owens got his first pick of the season. It would be three more games before Owens would get another int., but against North Carolina Wesleyan, Owens got his second interception of the year. While this was a welcome sight to the Ferrum faithful, Owens was not done. By the end of the day, Owens had two more INT's. to go along with three pass break ups, and 2 tackles. The three interceptions in one game tied a Ferrum record.
After that game, Owens was ranked nationally for the first time in interceptions,
(T-19th). Although he had 7 tackles in his next game, without an interception against Methodist, Owens ranking dropped to T-34th.
It did not take long for Owens to move up in the national standings. This past week against Greensboro, Owens got interceptions number 5 and number 6. One of which he returned 98 yards for a touchdown and a new Ferrum record for longest interception return. He also added 5 more tackles to bring his season tackle total to 32. Owens is currently tied for 9th place in the nation for interceptions.
While this article highlights those that are ranked nationally, Ferrum is truly putting forth a team effort, and it is this effort that has them in the hunt for a championship.
EDITING NOTE- I received a comment on the original article, that led me to go back and review the defensive statistics. I was in error in leaving Tarrell Owens out of the original article. The article is intended to highlight those players that are ranked nationally. I apologize for the original oversight of Tarrell Owens.
Photos By Tammi Armstrong