LSU fans have heard a lot about J.R. “Ego” Ferguson, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound prospect that starred at St. John’s at Prospect Hall last fall.
Yet, a decision just prior to the summer put a wrinkle in the prospect’s recruitment process. At the end of May, Ferguson decided that he would play his senior season at Hargrave Military Academy.
With head coach Bob Prunty’s history with talented defensive linemen a major selling point, the Maryland native headed south to Virginia for his final season of prep ball.
With over 40 offers, a list highlighted by all of the programs at the top of the college football pecking order, Ferguson recently trimmed his list to ten teams.
TigerSportsDigest.com caught up with Ferguson’s father to talk about what teams are left in the race for his son’s services, and where LSU stands with their chances of making the pull come signing day.
“LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Cal, FSU, USC, Maryland and UCLA are the schools that he is focused in on,” the elder Ferguson said. “Distance will not be a problem. We eliminated that, because you can find opportunity anywhere. We did not want that to be any hindrance in his decision. We want him to see a new side of life, broaden his scope.”
Next weekend, Ferguson and his father will take a step into the unknown when they trek south and visit the LSU campus.
“We wanted to come down for the Auburn game, but the timing of it worked out better to plan ahead and get in next week for the Tulane game,” Ferguson’s father said. “It will be his first time getting over there, so I know he is excited.”
While the trip will be a time for the nation’s No. 13 ranked defensive end to get familiar with the coaches, Ferguson’s relationship with the Tiger staff is already a bit deeper than most think.
LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley suited up for Alabama A&M from 1984-88. During those same seasons, Ferguson’s father also played ball in Alabama.
“I was down at Jacksonville State, so we played against one another in the old Gulf South conference,” Ferguson said. “He later went up and was a coach in Chicago with the Bears, which is something I really like to see from a staff member. I know he is a guy that has been around the game and knows it well, and that is what J.R. is looking for.”
Defensive coordinator John Chavis is also in his first year at LSU. Fortunately for the Tigers, he has been recruiting Ferguson for much longer than that.
“Coach Chavis was at Tennessee, and I remember him being one of the first people to ever get in touch with us and start recruiting J.R.,” the elder Ferguson said. “A lot of their relationship stems from Tennessee, back when he would tell J.R. about guys like Haynesworth and Henderson.
“Chavis really caught his attention over the years.”
As for head coach Les Miles; Ferguson’s father said that the headman’s past speaks for itself.
“Les has the track record,” he said. “It goes back even to Oklahoma State. And then at LSU when he had [Bo] Pelini; they would just attack the quarterback by utilizing big defensive ends.”
The coaching staff has checked out, but will the campus do the same? Ferguson’s father said that the weekend visit would be about getting to the bottom of every detail – from the classroom to the field.
“The trip is about identifying what J.R. wants,” he said. “LSU is in the SEC, and that is arguably the best conference out there. But is LSU a school that uses big defensive ends, do they have a sound business program and is there an opportunity to play early? All of those things are questions.
“I also want to see and spend time with the athletes,” he added. “I want to see what type of bonding everyone has; I would like to see the ones who are not playing every down, and see their demeanor. J.R. is interested to find out what kind of transition they have set up, because that is a big responsibility.”
In the meantime, Ferguson has his eyes set on continued improvement under Prunty and his staff. So far, the reviews have been nothing but positive.
“He has surpassed all my expectations, both on the field and in the classroom,” the elder Ferguson said. “In respects to school, he just brought home a 3.2 GPA, and he is taking all core classes.
“On the field, he has only played in about two full games due to blow outs and cancellations, but he has recorded about 7.5 sacks. He said that his season goal is to get over 15.”
Ferguson said that no decision date is currently set.