Ferrum football loaded with local talent, ready for second season under Grande

Panthers prepare to improve on 6-4 record last season

FERRUM, Va. – At fall football practice, the sun beats down on a Ferrum program that's just warming up. The Panthers went 6-4 a year ago and in his second year at the helm, coach Rob Grande is ready to build off a solid first season.

"Certainly excited about how the guys came together and played hard. They didn't play perfect every game, but they played hard for all of them and came out on top more than we didn't. That set a tone I think in the second year," Grande said.

Giles product Brian Mann lit up the backfield last year, setting a new school record for most rushing yards in a season with 1,453, earning him USA South Offensive Rookie of the Year as a freshman.

"It was unbelievable, it was definitely something I can look back on for the rest of my life. But coming into the season I wasn't even for sure if I was going to play or not, so it was definitely a good surprise for me," Mann explained.

"A lot of people locally even beyond Giles knew who he was, that's a footprint and we want to have I knew we came from a great program coach Williams has done it the right way up there and they have a culture of winning and those are the kind of kid you want in your program," Grande added.

The Panthers also return a stingy defensive line. Reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year, Montel Lee, who led the league in sacks in 20-16 and Franklin County alum Al Matthews, who was voted All-Conference second team, anchor the defensive line that will bring some heat this season.

"They've understood what we're about, they understand what I'm about and to have that leadership, especially upfront on your D-line it's a great place to start to set your defense year-in and year-out, and looking forward to a big year for both of them."

"We're starting a generation thing here, we just lead by example and hopefully the young guys take what we left them, from what they learn from us, and they will share it on with the other freshman coming in," Matthews said.

There are big moves ahead for Ferrum as it joins the ODAC next season, but the Panthers aren't looking too far ahead. Just aiming to do well in their final season playing in  the USA South.