Annapolis has a lot to offer recruits. An Ivy League education, for sure. The chance to play major college football, no doubt. A guaranteed job after graduation that offers benefits and a sense of purpose? You just don’t find that at every college. Nor do you find the experience of the ‘Brotherhood’, as recent Navy commit John Ferguson found out on his official visit.
The Naval Academy rarely picks up high school commitments from players with BCS conference offers, but Guyer (Denton, TX) defensive lineman John Ferguson spurned Pac-12 member Oregon State to come east and play at Navy. Returning to the Lone Star State from a visit to a chilly Annapolis in mid-January, he had good news to report for Navy fans.
“I actually committed about a week before the visit,” said the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Ferguson, who was named All-District this past season.
“I really liked that obviously it has great football and there is good competition every year, but more than that it was just the opportunities at that school and the Brotherhood. I couldn’t find anything wrong with it,” he added.
Often cited by current Navy players as one of the factors which keeps them going through tough times during the challenging experience of being a Midshipmen, the “Brotherhood’ -- or bond between Navy football players -- has also proved a real turn-on to recruits in recent years. From his visit to Annapolis and interaction with current Midshipmen, Ferguson received as sense of acceptance as part of a dynamic bigger than himself. He said that feeling of ‘brotherhood’ was apparent in the way Navy’s current players treated him and the other recruits, bonding with them over activities as simple as going out to dinner or spending an evening at the bowling alley.
“We were out with them and they said they would do anything for each other basically,” Ferguson said. “It seems like they’ve got a real special thing going there and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
That feeling of camaraderie was something Ferguson claimed distinguishes Navy from its sister service academy in Colorado Springs. Also offered a scholarship by the Air Force Academy, Ferguson had visited both schools and even traveled to Annapolis in October to watch the Falcons win their second straight game over Navy. But he said he never felt a strong connection to Air Force’s players, and was intrigued by the variety of post-graduate military service selections at Navy.
“I took a good look at Air Force and visited it. They’re both great schools, but I just feel Navy has a little something more special there as far as tradition and the ‘Brotherhood,’” Ferguson said.
He continued, saying, “At Air Force nobody talked to me about them having a ‘brotherhood’ or anything like that. The bonds between the players seem tighter at Navy, and I like the opportunities in the Navy or the Marine Corps more than in the Air Force.
Despite committing to Navy in mid-January, GoMids has learned Ferguson was offered by Louisiana-Monroe following his verbal declaration. The Texas star, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, said he has no interest in the offer.
“Louisiana Monroe offered me the other day, but I’m committed to Navy so that’s where I’m going,” he said.
While he shows exceptional use of his hands and great movement to the second level as an offensive tackle, Ferguson admitted that the position was not a natural one for him. Originally a tight end and defensive end during his first two years of high school, he instead switched to tackle at Guyer because of personnel shortages on the offensive line. He said he met with Navy’s coaches on his visit to confirm he’d be playing end, which will come after spending a year at the Navy prep school next fall.
“I had a meeting with the D-line coach – coach Pehrson – and he seemed awesome. I can’t wait to start playing for him,” Ferguson said. “Coach Niumat, we had a meeting with him and he just seems like a great guy. He not only cares about winning football games but also making us people.”
“I was obviously happy about getting the chance to move back to defense,” Ferguson added.
Ferguson joins what is already looking to be one of the more accomplished prep Navy recruiting classes in recent memory. While time will tell if many of the current commitments arrive and contribute in Annapolis, Ferguson’s case – along with those of defensive tackle Nate Hoff and running back Toneo Gulley – indicate an unlikely upswing in Navy defeating other FBS schools for recruits. Not only is Navy winning battles over other FBS schools, but bringing in Ferguson – a three star recruit according to ESPN Scouts Inc. -- confirms another player who chose Navy over Air Force, despite the Falcons’ two year winning streak in the rivalry.
Like many recruits who’ve spoken with GoMids, Ferguson indicated that future Navy plans to move to the Big East conference in football positively influenced his decision. While in Annapolis, Ferguson and other recruits were shown an example of the future Big East might look like. He and his fellow commits have already turned their attention to making a splash once they take to the next level
“We got to see the projected Big East conference for the next few years, and I’m all for it,” Ferguson said. “It looks awesome to me. It’s some great competition and we get the chance to compete for a conference championship.”