Redshirt Freshman DB Looking To Make His Mark

Lorenzo Ferguson is finally ready to compete for playing time as a member of the Auburn football team.

Auburn, Ala.--When he first arrived as a late signee for the 2004 freshman class, Auburn coaches had hopes that Lorenzo Ferguson would help the Tigers in the secondary where depth was a concern.

However, it didn't take long for the coaches and Ferguson to realize he wasn't quite ready yet for college competition. Still recovering from a slow to heal ankle injury, the defensive back obviously wasn't full speed for the start of practice last season.

"I knew after I came in that I wasn't going to be able to play because my ankle was not 100 percent," Ferguson tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I would say it was 70 to 75 percent. When I started doing back pedals that is when it started swelling on me."

Ferguson works against Patrick Lee in a drill during Thursday's practice.

Ferguson had originally committed to LSU as a senior at Southridge High in Miami, but after being injured Coach Nick Saban's staff asked the defensive back to sit out last fall and join the team in January 2005. However, he decided not to wait on the Bayou Bengals after Auburn made him a summer-time scholarship offer, which he accepted.

After redshirting last fall and doing extensive rehab on the ankle, Ferguson is competing for a starting job in spring training.

"Practice is going good for me," he says. "When I first got here I couldn't do too much. I think I have got my speed back."

Ferguson has been busy during the first week of spring practice. "Right now, Coach (secondary coach and defensive coordinator David Gibbs) has got me working at cornerback and safety so I have to know both.

"I feel more comfortable at safety because I have been playing there since high school, but it doesn't make any difference where I play. I just plan to go out there and give it my best."

Last fall, former defensive coordinator and secondary coach Gene Chizik had Ferguson learn the cornerback assignments while making the adjustment to college and getting his ankle healed.

"In our (4-3) defense I know the cornerback spot well, playing it last year with Coach Chizik," Ferguson says. "I am trying to get back into it at safety."

Ferguson says the redshirt season was definitely a positive move for him. "I think that helped me out a lot," he notes. "My ankle was able to get stronger and the winter workout helped me a lot."

Ferguson says he also has been able to get bigger and stronger since last summer. "I am up to 6-2 1/2, 207 pounds," he says. "When I first came here, I weighed 192 so I have gained a lot of weight."

The defensive back says adjusting to college has been a challenge because he stays busy all of the time. "Waking up early and having all of these meetings doesn't leave you much free time," he says. "You barely get any rest time so you are on your feet all day. That is has been the biggest thing I have had to get used to in college."

Ferguson had a great opportunity to watch the success of the 2004 team as the Tigers finished 13-0.

"Everybody played together last year," he says. "There was a lot of leadership on the team and young cats stepping up. That is how it is going to be this year."

For his redshirt freshman season, Ferguson says he has set one basic goal for himself. "I want to go out there and compete for a position this spring and I want to be on the field this season." he says.

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