FERRUM — Star running back Brian Mann put on his Ferrum College football uniform for the first time since sustaining a knee injury in the Panthers’ Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) road loss to Washington and Lee University.
Mann’s mishap occurred during the second quarter of the fourth game of his final collegiate campaign. Last Saturday, he took the field with his family to be honored on Senior Day, then he served as one of Ferrum’s captains.
Lastly, Mann retreated to the Panthers sidelines, uniform in two, and watched as Ferrum was conquered by league foe Shenandoah University.
Because of all of this, Mann considered Senior Day “bittersweet.’’
“My injury was unfortunate...We didn’t play well as a group and that showed on the scoreboard,’’ Mann said following Ferrum’s loss, its fifth this season.
“I feels good to put the uniform on and I definitely wanted to run out on the field. It’s something I can’t control (right now), but I’m working as hard as I can to get better.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to play again, but, to be honest, I really couldn’t tell you (if I will). “Some days (my knee) feels really good, some days, it’s real sore.
“I definitely wanted to play (against Shenandoah). It was bittersweet,’’ Mann said.
Mann has two more regular-season opportunities to return to Panthers’ backfield: Saturday at Hampden-Sydney College and next week against long-time gridiron foe Emory & Henry College.
If he does return it might be apropos to do so against Emory & Henry; he made his collegiate debut in a 39-38 victory over the Wasps four years ago in the inaugural Crooked Road Classic at W.B. Adams Stadium. It was Ferrum’s first on-field win in the series since 2005 and it marked Rob Grande’s debut as head coach.
Mann has played against Hampden-Sydney twice and both times, the Panthers were victorious: in 2016 at Salem Stadium-Willis White Field, he rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns and last year, he ran for 240 yards and two TDs.
Grande had originally recruited Mann for Emory & Henry, but when he got the Ferrum job, he was able to change Mann’s thoughts about his college choice.
Ferrum brings a 3-5 (2-4 in the ODAC) mark into Saturday’s visit to Hampden-Sydney, its first since 2011 and the Panthers need to win out to achieve a break-even season overall and in conference play.
Hampden-Sydney is 1-7 (0-6 in the ODAC) and the Tigers have not won since the season’s second week when they bested Christopher Newport University in a non-conference contest, 27-24 in overtime.