Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stockton receiver is hands on - on and off the field

Demetrius Ferguson of St. Mary's-Stockton tries to spin past a Downey High defender during the June 2014 Fresno State tournament (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)
Under the stadium lights of the 209, Demetrius Ferguson of St. Mary's-Stockton uses his hands to defeat his opponents, as the senior wide receiver is the Rams' No. 1 target.

Off the field, Ferguson doesn't stop using his hands - because he's either making dinner or cutting hair.

Ferguson triples as a downfield playmaker, cook and barber. Just like any high school football player with college football ambitions, the 6-foot-2, 158-pound senior posts his highlight film on his social networking pages for his friends to see. However, unlike many prep prospects, Ferguson will post videos of himself cooking in the kitchen or using the razor blade to give someone a new look.

Ferguson said he's learned both cooking and hair cutting in the last year. He calls both hobbies his stress relievers.

"At the end of the day, I have to take my mind off of something. I think about football all day, but you have to relax and have some 'me' time," Ferguson said.


Ferguson has learned his culinary skills from his mom, who's using dinner time to help prepare her son for the college life, plus get him to resist the temptation of eating out everyday.

"She's trying to get me ready (for college) so she has me preparing my own meals," Ferguson said. He adds that his favorite dish to make is a chicken alfredo casserole.

Ferguson has posted videos of himself firing up chicken, vegetables or other side dishes on the stove.

Has his Rams' teammates asked him to prepare the team meals?

"They haven't, yet," Ferguson said, laughing.


The wide receiver learned how to cut hair by watching one of his friends.

"I decided to do that because one of my best friends, who's my age, cuts hair and he's my barber. I'm at his house all the time and I've seen him cut hair," Ferguson said. "I started thinking 'I'm playing football and I'm going to school. Then I come home, do homework, but then I don't do nothing. So why not? Why not find another hobby? And I can make money while I'm doing it.'"

Ferguson said he likes the social aspect of being a barber.

"When I cut people's hair, it gives me a chance to interact with new people and chill with them," Ferguson said.

Like his highlight films and cooking reels, Ferguson will post videos after giving someone a cut. He also said that being a barber can give him a side job in college.

"I know a lot of people who need haircuts," Ferguson said. "When I visited Arizona State (for a summer camp), I saw a lot of people looking for barbers. Once I get to college, that will be a great thing for me to do (cut hair)."

Ferguson catches a practice ball during the Fresno State tournament (Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)


Ferguson looks like a mismatch for opposing defensive backs because of his towering frame. He's won several one-on-one battles by out-jumping his defenders, hauling in the air ball, then dashing to the end zone. He's shown he doesn't need to always beat opponents with the jump ball, though, as he's torched defenses after the catch. He proved that in his opening game on Sept. 5 against Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa.

Ferguson caught one pass on a post route, sprinted at three defenders waiting for him at the CN 35-yard line, but cut left and darted his way to the 9 for a 44-yard gain. The trio of Cardinal Newman defenders didn't lay a finger on him.

He spun his way out of two defenders' arms on another post route. He caught the big play at the Rams' 49-yard line, but then slipped by one defender by rotating to his left then added another spin move to his right at the CN 40 to shake off the other defensive back. Ferguson was brought down at the CN 35 after the 22-yard catch and run.

Ferguson averaged 20 yards per catch that night, finishing with four receptions for 80 yards in the Rams' 35-15 victory.

Ferguson credits his 7-on-7 team for helping him add new traits to his game.

"I honestly feel that playing with Diverse Sports during 7-on-7 made me a smarter player," Ferguson said. "They helped me pick apart defenses. Now, I know what defenses and coverages my opponents are in. It gives me a chance to know which route to run now."

He caught the attention of one opposing coach during the 7-on-7 season: Elon Paige of Team Field Up. Paige compares Ferguson to Doug Baldwin of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

"I was very impressed with his speed off the ball, ability to make the tough catches, and his ease in making people miss after the catch," Paige said of Ferguson. "Those are three qualities that make a dangerous receiver."

Paige is a former college football receiver at Sacramento State University. He said he likes Ferguson's attitude and receiving strengths.

"He carries a demeanor which he knows that he's elite and he'll play like it. That's what you want in a go-to-guy," Paige said. "After watching him at the Fresno State passing camp, it solidified my belief that he's a bonafide NCAA Division I athlete. He was unguardable. He scored at ease and ran past a host of defensive backs. If he continues to do that up there in the delta (Stockton area), especially against the top teams in his area, his stock will rise drastically."


The Rams' target has been on the college football radar. He holds one scholarship offer from New Mexico State of the Sun Belt Conference. He said Eastern Washington of the Big Sky Conference (Football Championship Subdivision) has him high on its list of recruits.

"They've called me and said they want to see me play," Ferguson said.

Washington State and Oregon of the always-competitive PAC-12 have sent him letters recently, Ferguson said.

He said he's more motivated than ever because of the schools showing interest in him.

"If I ball out the first three games, I can get more offers," Ferguson said.

He said that his offense is opening up the playbook, allowing Ferguson to be utilized a lot more.

"This year is way different," Ferguson said. "Last year, we didn't spread the ball around (the Rams were run-heavy in 2013). But this year, we're passing the ball way more. It's equal this year. The coaches know how to use the weapons we have now."

Another motivation for Ferguson? The number of players who went from Stockton to the college and professional level.

Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back) attended St. Mary's High. Brandin Cooks (first round draft choice for the New Orleans Saints) starred at wide receiver for Lincoln High. Justin Davis (current USC starting running back) was a five-star recruit at Lincoln. Na'im McGee (San Diego State cornerback) was a former star at St. Mary's. Those superstars from the 209 have inspired Ferguson.

"I feel like we're getting more coverage now, especially with some of the guys in the NFL," Ferguson said. "They brought a look to Stockton."

Ferguson goes for the jump ball at Bulldog Stadium (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna)


What to like: Ferguson can make an array of catches, either low to the ground or high above him. He does an excellent job of adjusting his body to all kinds of passes. In the open field, Ferguson is slippery like an elusive running back and can run around defenders or use spin moves to make them miss. His blocking has improved this season, with Ferguson locking his palms in between a defenders' numbers and driving him to the turf like an offensive lineman. He's explosive off the snap and gets open in a matter of three seconds. Despite his small 158-pound body, he's not afraid to run inside routes and sacrifice himself with the middle grabs.

What to build on: Most defenses he's gone against have tried playing a zone coverage and usually gives him a three to five yard cushion. I need to see how he consistently fights off jams at the line as the season continues. He'll need to refine his routes like most high school receivers. He'll likely need more muscle down the road, especially if he goes against more press coverages.

Overall: Ferguson is a machine in Stockton. He's emerging as one of the 209's top playmakers. With only one scholarship offer, he's definitely a sleeper in the Northern California region. He's a big play waiting to happen.

More on Ferguson:

Next game: Ferguson and the Rams (1-0) travel to Central Catholic of Modesto (1-0) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 12. 

No comments:

Post a Comment