Yes, we all know last year was difficult to endure. I would not be surprised if there are not those who see last year as a sign of things to come. We had two new teams in the conference, who I believed would really cause difficulty for many conference teams. LaGrange and Huntingdon, I felt, would make the conference stronger, but worried this may be at the expense of any and every team in the conference. Of course, there was always CNU, and we know what a challenge they can always pose, but then out of nowhere, comes a resurgent Maryville team, and Methodist....That means that last year, of the 9 teams in the conference, 5 of the teams were really in the hunt well into the season.
The bottom four, Greensboro, Averett, N.C.Wesleyan, and Ferrum, all had a rough time. So why will this year be different? Well I cannot speak to what every team has done in the off season, and I cannot promise that it will be different, but I can tell you why I am optimistic about Ferrum's chances for improvement.
1. Phil Elmassian- New defensive coordinator with multitudes of coaching experience, and a proven record of success. I cannot help but think that his hiring will pay big dividends. Elmassian Bio
2. Jeff Hanson- Another new hire on the sidelines. Again with great experience, and a proven track record. Hanson Bio
3. Tim Reynolds- Returning for his Senior year, Reynolds has proven he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. Offensive player of the Year in 2012, Reynolds will be looking to close out his college career with strong numbers, and a strong finish. Reynolds Bio
4. Dominique Lesine- A name that may be familiar to many Panther faithful, "DL" has returned to the Ferrum gridiron, and will bring plenty of speed and power in the offensive backfield.
5. Tarrell Owens- A very consistent player in the defensive backfield, Tarrell had 64 total tackles from his safety position, and will be a huge contributor in his Senior season. Owens Bio
6. Justice Gilbert (Recruit)- Should arrive on campus this fall, and could earn a starting job early on if his high school career is any indication. Article on Gilbert
7. Josh Bare (Recruit)- Strong High School Career. Should be an asset for the Panthers
Article on Josh Bare (Two stories on one link- look for a small picture below the article and click on it to read Bare article).
8. Jaquan Martin (Recruit)- Very accomplished High School career. Article on Martin
9. Stephen DiCenso (Recruit)- Could play on either side of the ball. Article on DiCenso
10. Shyron Smith & Kwajay Witcher (Recruits)- A 1-2 punch to the defensive backfield. Article on Smith and Witcher
First, keep in mind, that these listed as recruits are not bound to attend Ferrum. The fact that they have "committed" is not binding. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they arrive on campus this fall.
Second, keep in mind that this is a short, partial list of recruits. Some very solid athletes will hopefully become Panthers this fall.