Jack Ferguson made it official after signing his letter of intent Wednesday.
The star senior linebacker at San Luis Obispo High School will be attending Cal Poly on a full-ride scholarship to play football next year.
Watching Ferguson’s highlight reels, it’s easy to notice how he attracted the interest of colleges such as Eastern Washington, Cornell and UC Davis — each of which offered him scholarships.
Few high school players of his size, at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, possess the ability to burst through the line and knock potential blockers to the side before wrapping up quarterbacks and running backs.
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Ferguson would be one of the Mustangs’ heaviest linebackers if he plays that position. He also has good speed with his fastest 40-yard dash time in high school being 4.68 seconds.
Ferguson might have tried to walk on at FBS schools such as Stanford and UCLA and had talks with coaches at those schools.
But in the end, the decision was “easy,” he said after signing his letter of intent to play for the Mustangs on Wednesday at his high school football field.
“It’s kind of a lot of pressure off your shoulders once you make your decision,” Ferguson said. “But I didn’t have to think too hard about it. Cal Poly was the best fit for me.”
By choosing to study business at Cal Poly, Ferguson will be following in the footsteps of his father, John, who also studied business at the local university.
“I know things have changed in terms of curriculum since he was at Cal Poly, but my dad is someone I can always seek advice from,” Jack Ferguson said. “Something I think that not everybody knows about me is that I pride myself on academics. I’m not just a football player.”
Another benefit to playing at Cal Poly is that his family, friends and high school coach David Kelley will have a short drive to watch him play football in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Kelley said that he plans to attend all of Cal Poly’s home games next year and possibly away games. He has a close relationship with the Mustangs’ football coaches with whom he watched game film this week. Kelley has patterned many of the things the Tigers do off the system Tim Walsh runs at Cal Poly.
Walsh said Ferguson will have the opportunity to compete for playing time right away.
“Of all the guys, he might be closer and the most physically ready of all the other guys” we signed, Walsh said. “His weight room numbers are incredible. His 40 times are incredible.
“He’s such a good looking guy for a guy who’s 18 years old. Is he ready? Maybe, but again we have a lot of returning starters and a lot of returning players on the football team. So, I think the future is still to be determined on him.”
Kelley said the Tigers will have a hard time replacing Ferguson, who has a 4.2 grade-point average.
“Talk about a scholar athlete,” Kelley said. “Jack is somebody who has shown others how to do it right.”
A tattoo on Ferguson’s forearm says “Dulcius ex Asperis,” which is Latin for “sweetness through difficulty,” a motto which carries meaning in the history of his family name.
Ferguson said that it’s a constant reminder to him that no matter the difficulty, a reward awaits for overcoming obstacles. He said his family was supportive of the tattoo.
His hard work was rewarded with seasons of 152 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a junior and 110 tackles and nine sacks this past season.
One of Ferguson’s favorite memories was beating Atascadero at home this past season. He said that before big plays, he’d raise his arms to pump up the crowd.
“That’s something that I started doing as a sophomore and kind of used it as a lucky charm,” Ferguson said. “It would be pretty cool to do that at Cal Poly. I just have to assert myself however I can.”