I had a great conversation with Coach Harper this afternoon, and must say I feel very upbeat about the upcoming season, but more importantly, the future of the team. Coach indicated that there are more than 170 in camp, and he said "we've got a good group".
To me 170 in camp is what Ferrum has needed to build a very strong foundation. This, in combination with the fact that most everyone that was expected to return, did return bodes well for the Panthers. Look for Tae Gilbert to be back this year in the offensive backfield. Gilbert was not eligible for the 2012 season, but will bring a lot of talent to the team.
There are question marks on both sides of the ball, and while there are areas that will be a work in progress, Harper likes what he sees for this season, and down the road. On offense, there will be a need to develop the offensive line, and wide receivers. On defense, there are many holes to fill, especially in the defensive backfield. Graduation took a toll on this part of the Panthers D, and unfortunately, Jatavious Adams (LB) will not be returning this season, for personal reasons. "Look for our defensive scheme to be somewhat plain and simple in the beginning" Harper said. This will be necessary as much of the defense will be young and untested.
I specifically asked Coach Harper about what the back-up quarterbacks were looking like. He again indicated that they were solid there with two that were especially impressive. This is very encouraging. Harper also indicated that there seems to be a lot more size in camp this year. This too is an encouraging sign.
While Ferrum will have its challenges, I look for them to contend and present many challenges to their opponents. With only four days left in camp, and a scrimmage with Guilford fast approaching, we will soon see the Panthers take the field to start Coach Harper's third season. The season kicks off on Sept. 7th at Emory and Henry.