CF.C Recruiting Spotlight: Delbert Ferguson

IN JUST TWO short weeks he has become perhaps the most highly anticipated running back in Washington State recruiting history. An anticipation that grew quickly from spark to full flame, fueled by positive comments following his visit to Pullman last weekend, and more of the same after Cougar coaches <b>Bill Doba</b> and <b>Kelly Skipper</b> sat in his Ohio living room on Wednesday.

Indeed, when Delbert Ferguson told on Wednesday "I feel like I'm going to be a Coug…" it was music to a Cougar Nation's ears.

His coach at Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, Ohio, Thom McDaniels, confirmed those sentiments.

"He was very impressed," McDaniels told on Friday. "He enjoyed his visit and liked everything about WSU."

After three outstanding seasons running the ball for Youngstown Ursuline—including rushing for 1,717 yards in 2002—Ferguson transferred to Harding, generally considered the top one or two high school programs in Ohio. The Raiders are known for their winning ways, intensity, and regularly placing players into Div. 1-A ball.

Ferguson had been a teammate of current Cougar quarterback Josh Swogger on Ursuline's 2000 State Championship team. Although just a freshman, he rushed for 280 yards and five touchdowns in the title game.

Because he came into the Harding program as a senior and suffered a hamstring injury last summer, the solid (6-1, 226) Ferguson was asked to take over the fullback spot and be a back-up tailback. Despite this he remained one of the most sought after recruits in Ohio, getting heavily courted by Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Syracuse, and Ohio State.

"Learning a new position is always difficult," McDaniels said, also pointing out the respect Ferguson earned for putting the team first with his acceptance of a less glamorous role than he'd been accustomed to at Ursuline. "But he was getting better and better each week."

But after rushing for 391 yards at 4.65 per carry, disaster struck in week nine: a broken femur would end Ferguson's high school career and damper some of the collegiate interest he'd been receiving.

Although McDaniels thinks it won't be until later this spring before it can accurately be evaluated how ready Ferguson will be to play in the fall, the recovery has gone nicely.

"He's been medically cleared and released to do anything," McDaniels said. "He can run, lift, do squats—anything."

IN ADDITION to the praise he receives for his gridiron prowess, his character earns just as much laudation. Just ask anyone who knows him.

"He is an awesome individual, one of then nicest kids I've ever coached," McDaniels said. "And I've been doing this for 30 years."

McDaniels also sees Ferguson's additional experience as a fullback and his development in the more intense Harding program as being a boon to his development as a college football player.

But unfortunately for Cougar fans, the recruiting process did not end for Ferguson with his visit from Doba and Skipper on Wednesday. He's visiting Cincinnati this weekend and may visit Iowa next week.

"He wants something to compare his (Cougar) visit with," McDaniels said. "But WSU has told him they'll hold his offer for as long as it takes."

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