The Essential List: Josh Ferguson

A look at Josh Ferguson -- one of a select group of players essential to the Illinois cause heading in to spring drills.

Josh Ferguson - Tailback - 5-10, 195, Junior

The Word: I think most everybody thought Josh Ferguson could be useful if healthy. It was just impossible to gauge the height of his ceiling since we'd hardly seen him full-go or playing in an offense that had much of a clue of it was trying to be. In 2013, Ferguson's versatility became a tool for Bill Cubit's crazy scheming vision. He vaulted ahead of Donovonn Young on the depth chart early on and never looked back, growing into one of the team's best and most exciting weapons. Don't feel bad if you didn't see it coming. Apparently most defenses didn't either.

2013: He averaged 5.5 yards per rush and 10.7 per catch, totaling 1,314 yards and 11 touchdowns. He shredded the injury tag, too, seemingly getting stronger as the season wore on. He recorded four of his five highest-carry games in the last month of the season.

Expectation: Ferguson was electric in Year One of the Bill Cubit Experience. Credit Cubit for dreaming up new ways each week to get this dude the ball, but Ferguson, along with his teammates, was the one that executed. With Cubit and Ferguson together all offseason, the possibilities are fun to imagine. I don't want to say 1,000 yards rushing is the goal, because Ferguson is as likely to gain 100 yards in a game receiving as he is on handoffs. As long as his average per touch remains to the good, there's no telling how many yards and touchdowns he'll put up.

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