Freshman looking forward to fall

The baseball offseason has been one of culture shock for freshman Tim Ferguson, but the talented shortstop will be more in his element starting Friday – on the baseball field.

Fall camp begins at the end of the week, but the workload is already more than expected for the Beaumont, Texas product. The wide-eyed newcomer is looking forward to the season and is working on settling in eight hours from home.

"It is going good," Ferguson said. "I was kind of got shocked by all the weights and working out stuff I have to do. I expected more of three days of working out and two days of baseball. We are running and hitting and everything. I'm not used to the atmosphere yet, but it will come along. I am really excited.

"Coming from high school, I didn't play football, so I'm not used to the weights and heavy lifting. The culture change is huge. Living by myself so far from home is another big step. It is an eight-hour drive."

Ferguson was rated the No. 55 position player nationally out of high school and chose Ole Miss over Rice, Notre Dame and LSU. He is in a battle to replace Zack Cozart, but will have to outplay Sean Stuyverson and Evan Button for the position.

"Like last year, Evan Button played first, but we all know he is a shortstop, second base, third baseman," Ferguson said. "I see all these guys, and reality is setting in. I need to get better, because we have so much talent with Button and Stuyverson. The competition is everywhere. It makes you have to work as hard as possible. Taking a day off will cause you to lose your job."

Shortstop is Ferguson's natural position, but his offense was Ole Miss' main attraction to the standout. His capability with the bat gives Ferguson more than one opportunity for playing time.

"I am a shortstop, but Coach Rob wants me for my offense, so I can play outfield with my frame also," Ferguson said. "I hope to start and plan to start, but my versatility will hopefully land me somewhere. It is just going to take work."

Coming into the new situation is difficult for anyone, but Ferguson was aided because of building relationships with his summer team.

"My dad is the coach of this summer league team, and when he heard about (Ole Miss freshman infielder) Logan Williams, he called him up and asked him to play with us," Ferguson said. "He really stung it this summer. We told Coach Rob, and he let us be roommates here. That worked out great because I already knew my roommate."

Also easing the process of fall camp is the four-on-one drills that Ole Miss employs after school starts but before official practice. Four players go over drills with an individual coach and have the chance to ask questions and become introduced or re-introduced into the Rebels' system.

"I like the idea because there is a lot of opportunity to get some one-on-one time with the coaches, and the staff gets to evaluate everyone individually," Ferguson said. "All of the stuff they tell us, it gets broken down and explained. It is all so much to learn, so it allows me to understand it and get it faster."

And "getting it" will be important as Ferguson looks to beat out two juniors for the shortstop position.

"My expectations are realistic and hope to play in more than 50 percent of the games and hopefully start more than 50 percent. I am confident and know that it can be done. The program has talent, and I can compete. I just have to prove it."

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