Ego Ferguson, who is spending his senior season at Hargrave Military Academy, flew from Virginia to Baton Rouge on Saturday morning.
His father, Ego Ferguson Sr., took a separate flight from the family’s home in Maryland.
After a string of airport delays pushed the pair’s arrivals into Saturday afternoon, the Ferguson’s finally made their way to the LSU campus.
Though J.R. was back on a plane headed for Virginia just 24 hours later, a day spent with the LSU staff was all that the Tigers needed to move into a competing spot for the four-star defensive ends’ services.
“The weekend was very, very impressive,” the elder Ferguson said. “For such a small window of time, the staff really did a good job cramming everything in. We left with the realization that LSU had solidified their position at the top of his list. You hear all the great things about a program, but until you get to the campus and see it for yourself, you can’t grasp it.
“Seeing LSU and everything that the school had to offer was something that both of us were excited that we had the opportunity to do.”
The weekend began with a tour of the academic buildings, in particular the COX Center for Student Athletes.
“When we arrived, we went straight into an academic tour, and we were very impressed with the COX Center,” Ferguson Sr. said. “J.R. saw that LSU puts a lot into athletes and their success in the classroom, and he liked that.”
Walking around the campus before the game, Ferguson Sr. noted that the fan support, for a non-conference bout, was particularly impressive.
“There were still a good amount of people out there tailgating and filling the stands for the game, even though it was against what some might say is a less talented opponent,” he said. “What really caught J.R. off guard were the students, and even adults, who recognized him. He could hear people chanting his name and telling him to come to LSU. He thought that was pretty cool.”
2011 defensive lineman Jalen Grimble, who also made the trip alongside his father, sat next to the Ferguson’s during the game. When Grimble recognized J.R., the 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end knew that he was a wanted man.
“When Jalen told J.R. that he had been watching his videos and was really impressed with how he played, J.R. was kind of flattered,” Ferguson Sr. said. “He thought it was really cool how everyone around Baton Rouge seemed to be on top of football so much that they even knew the recruits.
“I told him that football around LSU was 24/7.”
On the field prior to the game, Ferguson ran into one of his favorite former Tiger lineman.
“J.R. got to meet Glen Dorsey, and he thought that was one of the big highlights for him,” Ferguson Sr. said. “Dorsey told him some good things about the LSU program and what type of players they recruit.
“He later spent some time with Charles Alexander, who was his host for the weekend, and then Rahim Alem, who is a big defensive end like J.R. They were both really nice guys, and they showed us the kind of team atmosphere that we wanted to see on the visit. They were a definite plus.”
On Sunday, the Ferguson family met with the LSU coaches for breakfast before touring the Football Operations Center.
“The breakfast at the alumni hotel was a good chance to chat with the staff, and then they took us straight over to the facilities for a really nice tour,” the elder Ferguson said. “It was all top of the line, and J.R. said that he felt like he was getting the red carpet treatment.
“We had never seen anything like LSU’s facilities, so it is safe to say that the tour made a good impression.”
As the day winded down, both Ferguson Sr. and his son had their chance to sit down one-on-one with three Tiger coaches.
“We met with [defensive line] coach [Brick] Haley, [defensive coordinator] coach [John] Chavis, and then [head] coach [Les] Miles,” the elder Ferguson said. “It was a great opportunity to ask the final questions that needed answers, and we heard everything that we wanted to.
“It was an atmosphere that felt like a family, which is what J.R. wanted. When coach Miles brought his family in and we met and sat down with his wife and kids, it showed us that J.R. would be stepping into a really good environment.”
Ferguson will still take official trips to a few more schools, including Notre Dame and Oklahoma. In a couple of months, a decision should be handed down.
“I think after he gets the visits in, he will know where he wants to go,” Ferguson Sr. said. “I don’t think it will go to signing day. I know he doesn’t want to make any statements about where teams stand until he sees some other campuses, but the trip did nothing but very good things for LSU.”