WVU Middle Linebacker Brendan Ferns Out For A Second Straight Season
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia has lost linebacker Brendan Ferns for a second consecutive season.
The reserve middle linebacker suffered an undisclosed arm/shoulder injury in WVU’s 56-34 win at Kansas on Saturday, and spent the fourth quarter with his arm in a sling. Head coach Dana Holgorsen announced Monday that Ferns is scheduled for surgery and will miss all or portions of the remainder of the season.
The redshirt freshman tore an ACL in last year’s fall camp and missed all of last year. The injury is significant in that Ferns was backing up Al-Rasheed Benton at the mike linebacker spot and playing on multiple special teams. The loss thins an already ailing Mountaineer defense, and could cause a shuffle at the reserve linebacker spots; redshirt freshman Logan Thimons is third on the depth chart at this point, but has yet to take a snap this season.
“He is going to have shoulder surgery,” West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “That’s two years in a row. That’s football. There is risk involved. We don’t want to lose anybody. He was more of a special teams guy playing there as much or more than anybody. We’re trying to get somebody to step in there.”
Ferns appeared in all four games thus far, making 10 tackles, nine solo. A high school All-American at St. Clairsville in Ohio, Ferns was a highly sought four-star recruit who hoped to make an immediate impact for the Mountaineers. A pure middle ‘backer, Ferns was the Associated Press All-Ohio Division IV Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. His 10 tackles tied him for the 13th-most on a team rapidly forced to delve deep into the depth chart because of injuries.
At one point against Kansas, coordinator Tony Gibson was without spur safety Kyzir White and bandit safety Toyous Avery – both starters – and had also lost Marvin Gross, who was inserted at the bandit slot after Avery was ruled out for the game after an injury against Delaware State the previous week. That added to the loss of corner Mike Daniels, who hurt a knee, and linebacker David Long, who has been held out of all four games while recovering from a meniscus injury suffered during summer conditioning.
Ferns’ injury marks the sixth in WVU’s two deep after the Mountaineers experienced significant graduation and NFL draft losses in the offseason. West Virginia does expect Avery and White, among others, to return in two weeks versus TCU. Linebacker David Long could also play for the first time since the bowl game.
“We’ll probably have to have our meetings in the training room,” Gibson said after the KU contest. “Hopefully they have set a film room station up in there for us. The off week couldn’t come at a better time. The bad news is I have six starters out that played minimally, and then were put on the shelf. If we don’t get healthy we are going to have some growing pains.”
West Virginia allowed 564 yards to the Jayhawks, including 367 rushing. The 34 points scored marked the most for Kansas in a Big 12 game in almost five years, dating to a 41-34 overtime loss at Texas Tech on Nov. 10, 2012.
“You want your best players out there playing,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t know if you will ever talk to a coach who doesn’t. That’s why we do what we do. When you play against a really good team you need your best out there in order to win. I was proud of how some of our freshmen stepped up and played. We lost seven starters on defense (after last year) and we lost more of them in this game. Al Benton was the only guy who started who had played last year and he played his butt off. Made 12 tackles and was holding it together.
“Freshmen are going in and they’re not going to play like you want them to. They haven’t been in the heat of the battle. You can’t use that an as excuse not to be successful. We were in that position a year before and were 4-8 in the Big 12 and nobody cared. I was proud of how the young guys went in there and played their tail off to the point where we won by 22. That’s all that counts, and now we have eight games left in the Big 12 and they are all going to be hard. Having guys back like Toyous and Kyzir will help.”