MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Facing the possibility of a third season-ending injury in three years, West Virginia linebacker Brendan Ferns must determine how desperately he wants to play football again.
Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson recognizes how a succession of serious injuries and grueling rehabs could have the former four-star recruit second-guessing a return.
“Whichever way he decides to go with this, obviously he’ll have the full support of this coaching staff and myself,” Gibson told MetroNews “Statewide Sportsline” on Thursday night. “If he wants to stick around, become a coach and give it up, I understand. I hope it goes a different way.”
The coach said there’s no indication which way Ferns is leaning.
“We have not had that discussion yet, but mentally he’s doing really well. He’s going to get through finals and discuss everything at that point,” Gibson said.
Among the most highly rated recruits to sign with the Mountaineers in the past decade, Ferns was fighting for the backup job at Mike linebacker two weeks ago when tough luck struck again.
He tore the ACL in his left knee — the same injury he suffered during preseason camp in 2016.
Last season culminated with a Week 4 shoulder separation.
Slated to be a redshirt sophomore this fall, Ferns represents the prototypical case for the NCAA granting a sixth year of eligibility. In fact, USC graduate transfer Kenny Bigelow plans to enroll at WVU this summer after receiving such a waiver.
If Ferns attacks this recovery the way he did previous injuries, he conceivably could be cleared for a midseason return.
“I know his mindset — at four months after his first (ACL tear) he was cleared,” Gibson said. “So it wouldn’t shock me if he’s ready to go in August.”