Change of Plans?

Royal Palm Beach's Ernest Ferguson had set a September visit to West Virginia to make his verbal commitment, but a rather unusual scheduling problem could interfere with those plans.

"We had to change our game schedule around because we have a shortage of referees," Ferguson told "I was scheduled to come up to West Virginia on September 21 for the East Carolina game, but we might have a game that weekend now. I'm trying to get it all worked out."

Shortages of officials are forcing games in Ferguson's area to be spread out over two or three nights per week, thus interfering with many recruiting visit plans.

With West Virginia's next home game not occurring for another month (Mississippi State on Oct. 20), it could be a while before Ferguson, a standout linebacker at Royal Palm, can make his first visit to the WVU campus. When he gets there, however, the surroundings could seem familiar to him, as he has done a great deal of research on his schools of interest.

"For West Virginia, I did a lot of research on the Internet," said Ferguson, who was diligent in his studies of all of the colleges that recruited him. "Also, two of my coaches, Ryan Brady and Darren Studstill, played at West Virginia. They were very straight up with me about West Virginia, and have talked with me a lot about it. Ryan Brady is our defensive coordinator, and he played linebacker there."

Ferguson, who also had offers from Iowa State and Mississippi, and interest from a number of other schools, such as Alabama, decided after a summer camp session with the Crimson Tide that WVU was the place for him.

"I decided the week I came back from Alabama," Ferguson confirmed. "After that camp, I started looking at my options and doing a lot of research. West Virginia just stood out. I like the whole football program. It's very intense and full of energy. I like the academic program there too. I am planning on majoring in business and going to law school."

Ferguson hasn't made a trip to West Virginia yet, and wanted to make his formal commitment in person to the coaching staff. He has informed them of that decision, and is looking forward to seeing everything in person. The on-campus visit will be the capstone to a long period of interest in West Virginia – something that might seem a bit out of place for a Floridian.

"I first heard about West Virginia when I started watching college football when I was a kid," he explained. "The colors were fascinating to me when I was little. I saw them playing and I thought ‘Blue and Gold. Hmmm. Maybe I will follow them.' So then when I started thinking about college, I stayed with them. It all started with those colors."

West Virginia, for its part, will be happy to welcome a player who counts one of the most basic football assets as his favorite part of the game.

"I like to hit, that's what I do best," Ferguson quickly responded to a question about his strengths. "I love making the play. If I don't make the tackle, I want to be there at the ball when it goes down. I run to the ball no matter what, and I want to be at the ball no matter where it is.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved being on defense," he continued. "I just loved running and hitting. That's my favorite part of the game. I play some fullback on offense, too, but linebacker is where I belong."

Ferguson will also be attempting to help his Royal Palm team make a run into the playoffs. Playing in a tough region of Florida, the competition will be good, but Ferguson believes his team has the ability to go deep into the postseason, despite losing a number of standout offensive players. An all-county selection as a junior, Ferguson thinks the Wildcats have a defense that will help carry them to the state playoff level.

Ernest Ferguson Profile

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