FERRUM, Va.- – The Ferrum College Panthers are looking to make a statement in 2019 in year four for head coach Rob Grande. Last season, the team had a 5-5 finish, but this year has more emphasis on the pass game and strong leadership on all fronts.
"Obviously we've been more run the last couple years with Brian (Mann) back there," quarterback Zack Clifford said. "You can do a lot of things with him. He's a really good athlete and good in space. This year, I think we're trying to go a little more 50/50."
All-American running back Mann rushed for over 4,000 yards in the last three years. The Panthers definitely have the run game down. Now they're focused on upping the air traffic.
"I just try to do everything I can to help the team out," Mann said. "If we want to throw the ball, I'm more than willing to pass, block or catch a pass out in the backfield. Whenever my name is called, I'm going to do my best to help the team out."
"We've been able to run it when people know we're going to run it," Grande said. "But to get to another level we feel and play later on in the season, we have to be able to distribute the ball."
But one thing that stands out for the Panthers is their leadership on both sides of the ball, starting with the veteran offensive line up front.
"We're all upperclassmen on the line. We're all taking charge and getting all the freshmen in because once we're gone, they're the ones who are going to have to take over," center Jordan Patti said. "So we're sharing down what we know to them so we can keep on trucking."
And the linebackers are showing what they're made of, as well.
"Most people when they look at our defense, they think we're undersized and they can bully us. But with the excitement and effort we have, it covers a lot of that," linebacker AJ Camp said.
The Panthers will open their season on the road at Greensboro on Sept. 14.