Life has changed drastically for five-star defensive end J.R. Ferguson. This rising senior decided to forgo his senior year at St. John's Catholic Prep. He finds himself playing at the post-graduate level for Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. Instead of dominating the high school scene in Frederick, Maryland, he's locking horns with older and more talented players.
"I came here for the competition," Ferguson said. "I came here for better academics. I am playing with and against 40-50 D1 players here instead of instead of three to four."
But like all his new teammates it's been a challenging transition for the nation's No. 3 rated strong-side defensive end.
"The transition has been different and the military part has opened my eyes. I know I need to follow directions and stuff. But it's all good and I know I am up for this."
Ferguson, 6-3 and 272 pounds, is playing defensive end for the Tigers. In his short stint in Chatham he has really impressed Hargrave head coach Robert Prunty.
"J.R. is special, special," Prunty said. "A lot of people think he's a defensive tackle but I am telling you he will be a defensive end. Research the NFL and he's their size now. To play in the NFL you have to have that big body. I don't know why there is so much talk about him going to tackle. If he doesn't eat right and watch his diet he could let himself go to defensive tackle. The way he's now he's perfect for defensive end. He's a strong-side guy. JR moves well, he's very physical and plays with good leverage. He's gonna be a special player because he's mean."
Ferguson and his father, Ego, Sr., have spent the last two years visiting a ton of schools. In fact so far the Ferguson's have unofficially visited USC, Cal, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Miami, FSU, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina, UCLA, Pitt, Illinois, Maryland, and N.C. State.
"I have been around."
Still, with all the trips and visiting a ton of schools Ferguson says he's no closer to narrowing down his school list. But he does know of three official visits that he will make this fall.
"I have narrowed it down to 15 and right now I know I will take three visits to Notre Dame, LSU and Oklahoma. After that I don't know. Those are three schools I haven't seen. It has nothing to do with top schools because I am open with everyone. I will take my time and pray about it."
It is expected that Ferguson will visit Oklahoma for their home game against Baylor and LSU for when they take on Florida.
This summer Ferguson camped at Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Pitt, and Maryland.