ON CAMPUS: Ferns shining on special teams at WVU

MORGANTOWN — Brendan Ferns spent a few moments thinking when asked about injuries suffered during his football career prior to suffering a torn ACL before last season.

The St. Clairsville graduate continually drew a blank.

“I’ve never had to sit out for a sporting event in my life,” Ferns said.

That all changed when Ferns missed last season as he underwent surgery and then a long, rigorous rehab to get back onto the field in time for spring practice.

“Surgery and sitting out was tough,” Ferns said. “The process (to get back) is hard, so the dedication has to be there. After you finish the rehab and you’re able to return, it means even more to have the ability to go out on the field and play.”

And that mentality has paid divends already in three games this season as Ferns contributes mostly on special teams and is listed second-team linebacker for the 2-1 Mountaineers, who will open Big 12 play Saturday at Kansas.

“I am just trying to take advantage of the role I have right now,” Ferns said. “I am hoping to continue working and playing well enough that it works into an even bigger role.”

Ferns’ hard work certainly isn’t going unnoticed by his coaches. Last Sunday evening, head coach Dana Holgorsen announced that Ferns was the recipient of the ‘Special Teams Champion’ award, which is given to that week’s top player in that phase of the game.

“It’s definitely special to receive that because it’s really the first kind of recognition I’ve gotten since I’ve been here,” Ferns said. “It’s just a step closer to where I want to be.”

Where he’d like to be is seeing his name as the defensive champion of the week and continuing to make an even bigger impact to help the Mountaineers win games. Ferns has recorded 10 tackles this season, which ties him for sixth most on the team. Of his stops, nine have been solo tackles.

Though he’s ringing up tackles and making a solid contribution, Ferns — who is extremely modest and soft-spoken — hasn’t really given himself a grade yet.

“It’s hard to tell right now,” Ferns said when asked how he feels he’s doing. “I think toward the end of the season, I’ll have a better feeling on how I’ve played.”

With each passing series and opportunity to get on the field, Ferns feels the game slowing down.

“It’s just another step,” Ferns said. “I remember in high school that my first game was a whole different step. It’s the same in college. Every step you take (up the ladder) , the game gets a little faster and faster. You just have to adjust.”

Here’s a look at how other former area athletes fared this week:


Division I

COLTON McKIVITZ, West Virginia — The former Union Local Jet continued to turn in fine effort at right tackle as he made his third consecutive start.

JOSH SILLS, West Virginia — Meadowbrook product started at right guard once again in the Mountaineers win against Delaware State.

AUSTIN DORRIS, Indiana — Shadyside product got an unexpected bye week after the Hoosiers’ game against Florida International was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.

ROSS COMIS, UMass — Madonna graduate saw some spot duty in the Minutemen loss. He completed just 1-of-4 passes for 17 yards.

ELIJIAH BELL, N.C. A&T — Sophomore from Wheeling Park caught three passes for 59 yards in a win over UNC Charlotte.

JERRID MARHEFKA, Ohio — Fifth-year senior from St. Clairsville played in the Bobcats’ victory against Kansas.

CHUCKWUDI CHUCKWU, Ohio — Linsly graduate appeared in last Saturday’s victory against Kansas.

THOMAS COLE, Wake Forest — Brooke product wasn’t listed on the Demon Deacons participation chart.

Division II

DEVON HARRIS, Walsh — True freshman from St. Clairsville made his first collegiate catches in a loss at FCS member Jacksonville last week. He caught 7 passes for 58 yards and scored a 17-yard touchdown. It was Harris’ second appearance of the season.

MATT KINNICK, West Virginia State — St. Clairsville product completed 38-of-52 passes for 372 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score in the Yellow Jackets loss to Notre Dame College. His number of completitions equals a school record.

ROBERT VARGO, Ohio Dominican — Martins Ferry graduate started once again at right tackle.

MATT BARBOUR, Ohio Dominican — Sophomore from Martins Ferry caught his first pass of the season for 18 yards in a loss to Penn last Saturday.

NYJUAN ROBINSON, Ohio Dominican — Freshman from Steubenville had a tackle in last week’s loss.

SHYOUN PETTEWAY, Ohio Dominican — Freshman from Steubenville had three tackles in last week’s loss.

COLE SKAGGS, West Virginia Wesleyan — St. Clairsville graduate played in last week’s Bobcats’ game.

GEREMY PAIGE, Gannon — Wheeling Park graduate posted 8 tackles, including a half of a tackle for loss.

MATT HACKATHORN, Gannon — Ex-Wheeling Park standout started once again at left tackle.

COREY ERNEST, West Liberty — Fifth-year senior from St. Clairsville started in the Hilltoppers’ victory along the offensive line.

BRENTON COLABELLA, West Liberty — Former Steubenville Central ace completed 17-of-24 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown.

CLIFFORD CLARK, West Liberty — Cambridge product posted 10 tackles in the Hilltoppers’ victory against Charleston.

CHANCE RUCKER, West Liberty — Caldwell graduate started along the offensive line at tackle last week.

AUSTIN WHIPKEY, West Liberty — Linsly School product appeared in last week’s game on the offensive line for the Hilltoppers.

CODY RINE, West Liberty — Brooke product posted 9 tackles and had a sack in last week’s victory.

SAVION JOHNSON, West Liberty — Former Wheeling Park standout rushed 11 times for 40 yards in his first significant action for the Toppers.

VONDELL BELL, California, Pa. — Ex-Wheeling Park ace started at cornerback once again.

THEO BLACKSTON, Mercyhurst — Former Wheeling Park Patriot served as a captain for the Lakers. He then caught 5 passes for 34 yards.

Division III

CHASE KINEMOND, Bethany — Former Shadyside all-Ohioan completed 19-of-33 passes for 225 yards. He also rushed for 17 yards and a touchdown. He again served as the Bison’s punter, booming six punts for a 42.2 yard average with a long of 51 yards.

DALTON SECHREST, Marietta — Beallsville product had five tackles in last week’s loss to Mount Union.

TANNER CLARK, Marietta — Caldwell graduate rushed 5 times for 7 yards against the Purple Raiders.

PARKER CARETTI, Marietta — River graduate had one tackle in his first collegiate appearance last week.

LUCAS HERRINGTON, Mount Union — Steubenville graduate played in the Mount’s win.

BRETT ROSEN, Muskingum — Former River standout played for the Muskies in their loss to Capital last week.

CHRISTIAN WITCHEY, St. Vincent — St. Clairsville graduate punted five times for a 39.4 yard average with a long of 54 yards.

VON WOODING, Oberlin — Linsly School product had a team-high eight tackles, including one for minus yardage in a loss to Wittenburg.

HAYDEN GAUS, Kenyon — Linsly product had one tackle for loss last week.

AUSTIN CURNES, Washington & Jefferson — Wheeling Park product started once again at left guard in a win over Thomas More.


JACOB BISHOP, Wheeling Jesuit — Martins Ferry graduate finished 16th in the Division II Challenge held at Kutztown. He was also named WJU’s Male Athlete of the Week.

KELSEY CHAMBERS, Wheeling Jesuit — Oak Glen product was fourth in the D-II Challenge and she was named MEC Runner of the Week.

FALLON DOYLE, Wheeling Jesuit — St. John Central graduate was 65th in the D-II Challenge last week.

ZACH HENRY, Wheeling Jesuit — Harrison Central product finished 67th in the D-II Challenge.

JENNA FURR, Wheeling Jesuit — Caldwell graduate was 50th in the D-II Challenge.

ALBERT SCHRIMP, Wheeling Jesuit — Wheeling Park grad led the Cardinals in the D-II Challenge by virtue of his 14th place finish.

JORDAN DELANEY, Wheeling Jesuit — Magnolia product finished 76th in the D-II Challenge.

SHAYE BECKETT, California, Pa. — Bellaire graduate was the Vulcans’ seventh runner by placing 91st overall last week at a meet in Indiana.

MEGAN BATEMAN, California, Pa. — Union Local product was 86th overall and sixth on the squad in a time of 20:46 last weekend.


SETH VANNOY, Alderson-Broaddus — St. Clairsville product finished 18th in the G-MAC Fall Invite at the Findlay Country Club. He finished with a 5-over 113 in the event that featured an 18 and 9 hole round.

MATT HERINK, Marietta — Freshman from Bridgeport finished tied for 26th in the OAC Fall Invitational held last weekend. He finished with a 12-over. He shot rounds of 81 and 75.

ISAAC DAVIDSON, Mount Union — East Liverpool product finished tied for 23rd in the OAC Fall Invitational with rounds of 77 and 78.

DEVIN WEBSTER, Marietta — Meadowbrook graduate shot 79 and 77 to finish at 12-over in the OAC Fall Invitational held last weekend.


ADRIAN SMITH, St. Francis, Pa. — Former St. Clairsville standout and her softball teammates received their championship rings at a football game last weekend from winning the Northeast Conference, which allowed them to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.