For John Ferguson, it was an easy decision.
The Athens Academy senior was committed to play football at Furman, located in Greenville, South Carolina. Then, Ferguson received an offer that changed everything.
Ferguson was offered a preferred walk-on spot at Georgia. He would not be on a scholarship, like he would have been at Furman, but he would have an opportunity to potentially work his way onto the field and earn one.
That was enough to alter Ferguson’s plans.
“Being from Athens, I think it's hard to turn down an offer from Georgia, no matter how big or small,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson accepted the preferred walk-on offer from Georgia. In the process, he turned down the scholarship offer from Furman and offers from more than a dozen other programs.
It was a risky decision, and Ferguson said there was some hesitancy, but he also believes his upcoming tenure at Georgia will be valuable.
“I knew when I decided to go to Georgia that playing time and all of that was probably not very likely until my senior year,” Ferguson said. “But I think the experience and the people I'm gonna be around is gonna make it all worth it.”
Ferguson announced his decision to join the Bulldogs earlier this school year. However, last Wednesday marked the formal celebration of his signing.
He was honored during a signing ceremony held at Athens Academy last Wednesday morning. The occasion brought Ferguson together in celebration with family, friends and coaches.
The signing gave Ferguson a chance to breathe a sigh of relief after a lengthy recruiting process.
“It felt great,” Ferguson said. “It was a day where I felt like all the stress was gone. I knew where I'm going to college. It just felt really good.”
Ferguson always liked football but he did not always hope to continue playing once his days as a Spartan ended.
When he was a sophomore, Ferguson received advice from coaches that convinced him he had a future in the game.
“I didn't want to play (in college) until about sophomore year,” Ferguson said. “I had some coaches talk to me and say I'm good enough, I just need to work. From sophomore year, I started working pretty hard and, since then, I knew I wanted to play college football.”
All of Ferguson’s hard work culminated in the ceremony last week.
Ferguson said he was excited to sign all the necessary documents and solidify his future plans.
“I felt really relieved right then, just knowing I can focus on one school, I'm done with the recruitment process and I'm just happy to be able to say I'm going to Georgia,” Ferguson said.
As for his academic future, Ferguson said he wants to study either business or physical therapy or some other medical area.
When it comes to working with the Bulldogs, Ferguson said he wants to keep a proper perspective as he works to earn a chance to make his mark on the storied program.
“I can just never get down,” Ferguson said. “I know you're gonna go against five-stars, four-stars every day, so you've just got to keep going no matter what happens. Hopefully, I'll be able to play snaps sometime in my career.”
With the Spartans, Ferguson enjoyed high levels of success the last four years.
Led by head coach Joshua Alexander, the team was regularly among the best in the state and went on playoff runs every season.
Ferguson said that winning tradition, plus the fact the program has produced other talented players such as Deion Colzie and Hugh Laughlin, makes him feel good about the career he will soon leave behind and about the Athens Academy football program in general.
“Over four years, I only lost five games. I don't think many people can say that,” Ferguson said. “Deion is going to Notre Dame, Hugh is going to Virginia. The year before me, we had four or five players go play D-I, so I'd say Coach Alexander has done a great job of producing players and getting people to love the game of football.”