Jason Ferguson, 5-5, 145. 4.5, Los Angeles Fairfax, is working his way back into game shape since injuring his knee four months ago. He tore his ACL at UCLA's one-day camp in June, forcing him to sit out his senior season at Fairfax.
He really burst upon the recruiting scene last spring, displaying tremendous cutting and breakaway ability at the Los Angeles Nike camp, playing against some of the top defensive backs in the west. There was a question about what level of college would recruit him, since he stood only 5-5. Suffering the injury was probably the worst thing that could have happened at the time to an undersized player who had to prove himself to college coaches on the field that he is worthy of an athletic scholarship.
Even though there was a question of whether Ferguson was a UCLA-level player before his injury, we at BRO have kind of adopted Ferguson as one of our favorite players. Before the injury, his cutting ability was probably the most eye-opening talent we saw all spring at the various football camps. It was a great story -- a player with some exceptional talent, trying to overcome the fact that he's just 5-5. And we've now especially adopted Ferguson since he suffered his injury at the UCLA one-day camp.
It's very fitting that Fairfax High School's mascot is the Lions, since Feguson is definitely one with a heart, as you can tell from his interview here.
BRO: Once the torn ACL was diagnosed what happened?
Ferguson: "I was in a pre-surgical brace about a month, because I had to wait about three and a half weeks before they did the surgery, so my knee could stabilize a bit. I had the surgery on June 26th, at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic. Then I was in the walking brace for a month and a half until the middle of August. Then the first big step was walking without my brace."
BRO: What followed once you were out of the post-surgery brace?
Ferguson: "After the surgery I lost a lot of muscle mass. I've been doing weight work and lots and lots of stretches. I ride the bike for a good 20-25 minutes every day. It feels great. I'm making drastic improvement. It's getting really strong again too. They do all kinds of test to test your strength. As soon as I get cleared on that I can start running again. That's the next big step. I feel like I could run right now, but I have to wait and get cleared by my doctor. I should be able to start running any week now, and start doing things that I like to do again. Then I have to wait another month and a half, so I can start doing agilities like cutting."
BRO: Are you still hearing from colleges in regard to playing football on the next level?
Ferguson: "Yeah. I've only heard from two schools since I started back at school and the calling period for coaches began. I've heard from Idaho and Nevada. They both know that I am injured, and they are both still very interested. That keeps my hopes up as something to drive me when I'm working out or doing therapy. Nobody has mentioned it (scholarship) yet, but hopefully Idaho sounds very interested and enthusiastic on the phone."
BRO: What about interest from the Pac-10 schools?
Ferguson: "Well, I'm definitely still interested in the Pac-10. UCLA is still sending me handwritten letters. Ever since I got hurt they have been sending me letters that have meant a lot to me. They're telling me to keep my hopes up, don't give up and this stuff happens to good players, and I can come back from this. So far they are the only Pac-10 school that has actually still kept in touch. They haven't called, but they are still sending the handwritten letters. I've gotten them from Bob Toledo, Don Johnson, Kelly Skipper and Ron Caragher."
BRO: Is there a real possibility of walking on at UCLA?
Ferguson: "My coach and I have discussed that several times. Let's say, God forbid, nobody wanted to give me a scholarship, and I had to walk on somewhere. I definitely want to stay close to home so I would try my hardest to walk-on at UCLA. But that is not like a guarantee. Just off the top that is the only place I could really feel comfortable walking on."
BRO: Is there any possibility that you will be able to get back healthy enough to play in a high school game again?
Ferguson: "I talked to one of the potential California team coaches in the Califlorida All-Star game. (The game will be played in January 2003.) He told me as long as the knee feels well and the doctors have cleared me I'm still on the California team. That has basically been my whole motivation. One game is better than nothing. If I were to play in that game, and play to the potential that I know I can play to. That would be good enough. I wouldn't really feel bad about missing this season, because I got to play that game and show everybody I'm okay still and still the player that I know I have been."
BRO: Has it been tough to watch Fairfax practice and play?
Ferguson: "Definitely. But the whole thing is that I am still part of the team. I've been going to all the games and all the practices. The only time I leave practice early is to go to therapy. I basically try to make myself kind of like a coach now. Trying to understand it from the other aspect of the game."
BRO: You really impressed at the Los Angeles Nike camp. From that time until the injury you were still waiting on a scholarship offer. Was that really frustrating?
Ferguson: "I know that a lot of my recruiting has had to do with my size. A lot of people did not like me because of my size. But my size does not affect my game at all. That's why I want to play in the Califlorida game, so people can see my game on display. It's not about how tall you are or how big somebody is, it's about how much they want it. And I want it, man."