Team Ego Chooses LSU
"I travel so much to all of J.R.'s games and camps," Ego Sr. says, "that it's nice to have company along for the ride."
J.R., who spent autumn as a student at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, surprised even himself with his collegiate choice.
"Until last night I was strictly FSU (Florida State)," Ferguson, whose mother lives in Titusville, Fla., told FanHouse. "Then last night my mom and dad and I had a discussion. Sometimes you gotta leave the nest. Go farther from home."
Granted, Baton Rouge is not all that much farther west (442 miles) down I-10 from Tallahassee (and, as FSU commitment Bjoern Werner knows, it's farther from Germany!). But it appeared to be the best compromise.
"We were up until two in the morning last night debating this," Ego Sr. said. "I wanted him to go to Notre Dame but he said, 'Dad, it's too cold'."
J.R.'s mother thought that it might be healthier for her son to leave the nest, i.e., not bet so close to her central Florida home. And so it became LSU.
That's recruiting. Months and months, if not years, of effort on behalf of college recruiters can come down to a decision made at 2 o'clock on the morning of Signing Day.
Whether Ferguson can become the next Glenn Dorsey or Charles Alexander in Baton Rouge remains to be seen.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive lineman did not play organized football until his freshman year of high school. "I thought I was going to be a basketball star,"J.R. says, "and I actually got a basketball scholarship for high school (St. John's in Maryland)."
Ferguson tried out for football but it was an inauspicious beginning. "My freshman year I didn't like getting hit," he says. "At one point, my dad sat me down and said, 'Maybe football isn't your sport.'"
That was then. This season, in nine games, Ferguson collected 37 tackles for loss and 13 tackles at Hargrave, where he was able to beef up his grades while getting accustomed to budgeting his time.
"Wake-up was at 5:30 a.m. for military formation," Ferguson says. "I didn't like it at all at first, but I realized that it will help me for being disciplined."
Ferguson burnt the other end of the candle the past week, admitting that the indecision had him up until three or four in the morning most nights. "I'd try to go to sleep but I'd just be sitting in bed for an hour or two," Ferguson says. "I did a lot of praying."
While Ferguson never actually visited LSU's campus -- he visited New Orleans when the Tigers played at Tulane -- he did see Notre Dame in one of the school's weaker moments, the loss to Connecticut in late November.
"We were walking around campus on game day," recalls Ego Sr., "and students were leaning out their dorm windows yelling, 'We want you here, J.R.!'"
Both Fergusons were surprised that students recognized them. Then Notre Dame, as was the custom the past two seasons in South Bend, fell apart in the fourth quarter and lost to a Big East team against whom it was favored.
"In the fourth quarter of that game, we're standing right in front of the student section," Ego Sr. recalls, "and students are shouting, 'Don't worry, we're going to fire [Charlie Weis] tomorrow.'"
Ferguson doesn't have to worry about that now. And he no longer has to agonize about where he'll be playing come September. Team Ego can at last get some sleep.