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Catching up with J.R. Ferguson

May 7, 2009 - Philip Cmor

It's pretty much accepted that Penn State would like to bring a couple of defensive ends on board in 2010. One of the most highly-sought players at that position in the country -- with 44 scholarship offers at last count -- is in the Nittany Lions' traditional recruiting wheelhouse of Frederick, Md.

Ego "J.R." Ferguson is a 6-foot-3, 272-pound defensive lineman that plays at St. John's Catholic Prep (formerly known as St. Joh's Prospect Hall). has him ranked as the 14th-best prospect in the 2010 class.

You don't hear a lot about Ferguson on the Lion recruiting boards, because most of the speculation is that he's pretty likely to sign with a college in the Deep South.

Ferguson was an expected attendee for the Nike Football Camp on Saturday at Penn State. I was able to catch up with him and his coach, Jimmy Ward, a couple of days later to find out if he was really as big a long shot for Penn State as most thought.

"Coach [Larry] Johnson is a really good guy, and Coach Joe Paterno is a legend,' Ferguson said. "I could see myself playing there.'

Ferguson said he hasn't begun to narrow his list of schools nor has he set a timetable, but Ward told me he thought the Nittany Lions were a legitimate player to land his big-time defensive end.

"He wants to go to a school with strong academics that's capable of competing for a national championship. Penn State fits that description,' Ward said.

Ward said Johnson was at the school to check on Ferguson a few weeks ago and was expected to drop in again next week.

Ferguson has averaged around 100 tackles and made 34 sacks over the last two years.

"One of the reasons he is being so heavily recruited is that he can play any position on the defensive line -- one technique, three technique or come off the edge,' Ward said. "A lot of schools have said they'd use him as a defensive end on first and second down, then move him inside on third down to have another pass rusher.'



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