J.R. Ferguson recently returned from a West Coast trip and it was a rewarding experience for the Frederick (Md.) St. John's Catholic Prep defensive end not only because he picked up an offer from Southern Cal but he also got to tour UCLA and California, two other schools of interest.
Getting an offer from the Trojans was big for Ferguson, rated as the No. 15 prospect in the 2010 class by Rivals.com. The only defensive end ranked higher is Jackson Jeffcoat at No. 6. So many programs have offered but when Southern Cal gets involved, it can't help but stand out.
"That was a big offer for me," Ferguson said. "They only recruit in-state kids and if you're out of state you have to be the truth. That was saying something to me, how they offered me and I got to talk to Pete Carroll and that was a really good thing."
It's still too early for a list of favorites but Southern Cal is expected to stick around in Ferguson's recruitment. What the 6-foot-3, 272-pound recruit liked about UCLA the most was the facilities and he also got along well with defensive line coach Todd Howard, who's recruiting him for the Bruins.
"The facilities were great and coach Howard coached in the league before, he's basically done everything," Ferguson said. "The techniques he used, I liked a lot. He said he recruits superior athletes to his school."
One of the things that stood out most about California was the educational side of things and that was a big plus for Ferguson, who said academics will play a major role in his decision-making process. His mother also found that to be a beneficial part of the trip to Berkeley.
At this point in his recruitment, Ferguson said he is not prepared to chop any schools off his list even though the offers continue to pour in and so many programs are already involved. Visiting LSU, Penn State and Ohio State will be the next step in the process and then he might be able to figure out which schools stand out the most.
That could be a difficult undertaking since colleges from every major conference in every part of the country are after Ferguson, who finished with 97 tackles (32 for loss) and 14 sacks last season. In his sophomore year, the St. John's Catholic Prep stud totaled 106 stops and 18 sacks.
A quick rundown of his list includes Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. So many others have also offered but Ferguson said he will look for a few specific things when he narrows down his choices.
"Comfort level, opportunity to compete at an early age and probably the biggest thing is the alumni, the name of the school, and the education system," he said.
Ferguson isn't sure if he'll be at the Penn State or Maryland Spring Game this weekend but he is sure he'll be at one.