Ferguson plans to take visits after pledge

MATTHEWS, N.C. -- Riley Ferguson realized he is a bit more like an Alabama quarterback than he thought he was.

Forget the clean-cut image of recent Crimson Tide signal callers, i.e. Greg McElroy or Jay Barker. Ferguson isn't like that. Neither is 'Bama starting quarterback A.J. McCarron.

“He's just like me,” the ESPN 150 prospect from Matthews (N.C.) Butler said Wednesday after visiting Tuscaloosa last weekend. “I hung out with him on Friday night when we were there. People say we're a lot alike. We wear the same number.

“We both have tattoos. That's not really a quarterback thing. We have the same personalities and stuff, just how he goes about doing stuff I guess.”

They also both loving throwing the ball, probably a bit more than head coach Nick Saban. Ferguson, however, is realistic. He understands that having 'Bama's two recent Heisman trophy candidates dictates play calling.

“They've just always had good runners there,” said Ferguson, who is rated the eighth best quarterback in the nation and 94th prospect overall. “They could just hand off the ball and expect something out of their running back, but this year they have a new offensive coordinator, coach (Doug) Nussmeier, and A.J. McCarron is doing a great job there.”

Nussmeier comes from the pass-happy Pac-12 where he was an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for Washington. Last season, the Huskies ranked 25th nationally in scoring and 38th in total offense in the country.

“I love their offense,” Ferguson said. “I was watching the spring game and how much they were throwing it. They were throwing it more often and they were running some plays like we do here. I like that.”

Nussmeier told Ferguson that he loves to throw the ball, which should appeal to any quarterback. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier shares that passing affinity and is also recruiting Ferguson.

“That would be unbelievable,” Ferguson said of the possibility of playing for the legendary coach. “He's had unbelievable quarterbacks come through. He can coach any kind of quarterback. He's a great coach.”

As for Spurrier's reputation of being hard on quarterback, Ferguson isn't worried about that.

“That's how it is sometimes,” he said. “I've been used to that since I was 7 years old. You just have to take it, go onto the next play and correct the mistake.”

Ferguson, who said he has no preference between the SEC and ACC, has also taken a close look at nearby North Carolina under first-year head coach Larry Fedora.

“They seem real cool,” Ferguson said of the new coaches. “He's got a nice, nice coaching staff to help that program build up. I think coach Fedora is going to do a great job.”

Ferguson said he's also planning a trip to Virginia Tech and would like to take a trip to Auburn.

“I definitely need to get a visit down there because they've offered,” he said. “I need to tour the facilities and stuff to get a better feel for the campus.”

That's where Ferguson's recruitment gets a bit interesting. Ferguson said he'd like to announce his commitment this summer, possibly with his teammates: receiver Uriah LeMay and defensive end/linebacker Peter Kalambayi. However, Ferguson said he plans to take his official visits after his announcement, a rare move for a quarterback. Auburn, because of the long drive, could be one of those schools so he could fly at the Tigers' expense.

“I might take officials just to make sure the school I choose is 100 percent right because I'll be able to tell what school is me and what school fits me,” Ferguson said. “I'll be able to go to that school and get that feeling and go to other schools and know that's not me so I might take all my officials after I commit.”

That might not please some coaches, who would prefer their commitments, especially a quarterback, not show interest in other schools.

“I'm definitely going to take it into consideration,” Ferguson said of a coach possibly asking him not to take officials after he commits. “They might get scared of other colleges but if they're getting scared of other colleges, they really shouldn't be doing that because they're recruiting you for you.”

Ferguson also conceded that taking official visits as a commitment could hurt his ability to recruit other prospects, as quarterbacks often do. However, he said it's important he finds the right place for him and would hope other prospects would so as well. He said he's happy to share what he's learned but that he's not into persuading people.

The 6-foot-3, 193-pound Ferguson is also taking a look at South Florida, which has shown strong interest. When asked about focusing on a small group of schools, Ferguson maintained he's wide open.

He said no college coach has asked for an early commitment, which can often help boost a signing class and that he's not worried about spots filling up at his prospective schools. He also said he wouldn't be afraid to commit to a school that already has a quarterback committed.

“I'm going to take my time,” he said. “I feel that if I do, I'll be able to commit then and hopefully another quarterback hasn't (committed to the same school).”