Josh Ferguson had high expectations for himself coming out of powerhouse Joliet Catholic. Then he injured his hamstring three games into his college career and missed the rest of the season. The soft-spoken running back is back as a redshirt freshman and finally had his breakout performance with his first 100-yard rushing game in last week's loss at Arizona State. If he keeps it up, perhaps he can convince some folks to make a movie about him and shove that "Rudy" guy to the side.
You grew up in Naperville and went to Joliet Catholic, what kind of drive was that every day? I'm from the south end of Naperville so it was only about 15 minutes. It wasn't too bad. No speeding tickets or anything like that.
There are a few great schools in Naperville, why Joliet Catholic? Well, first of all, the course rigor. My parents really loved that and that definitely attracted me. And obviously the football tradition there.
What are they feeding the running backs at Joliet Catholic? We've had so many in the past that so many people just want to play there. You've got some good athletes who are coached well and part of a great program, so all that helps.
What was it like playing in such a tradition-rich program? It's amazing. There are a lot of good teams out there, but Joliet Catholic is a program. You experience a lot more things there than a lot of high school students get to experience.
Have you ever met Rudy? No, he's been at plenty of games, though.
When are they going to make the movie "Fergie"? (Laughs) I'm not sure if we're going to see that one. I think I might have to do something great or something.
What was it like last year playing a couple of games and then getting hurt? It was tough, mentally, emotionally, physically. It was a long offseason and I'm just so happy to get back.
Your body has changed a lot since you got here, how much weight have you put on? Probably about 10 or 15 pounds. It's from lifting, eating right, getting stronger, all that. That was a goal coming in. I haven't lost any speed. If I did, I've got it all back.
What was it like performing like you know you can at Arizona State even though it came in a loss? It felt good. It's been so long. I don't know what I can really say about it. It felt so good to be out there running away from guys and making people miss. I felt like I got back to being myself and I'm really excited to play the rest of the season.
What's it like following in the footsteps of the recent great running backs here? We watch film of them once or twice a week, there's so many greats who have played here. It adds some pressure, but it's positive pressure.
What's the relationship like with you and Donovonn Young? We're greats buds off the field. He's a next-door neighbor of mine in our apartment complex. I see him all the time. We work out together, we train together, we do what we do on the field together. We watch football, get a bite to eat together with Reilly O'Toole, he's in our class as well.
Why Illinois? Obviously this is home. Playing for your state university is always cool. They had my major, kinesiology, they have a great kinesiology program here, one of the best in the nation. There was also an opportunity to play with some guys leaving. It was going to be me and Donovonn.
What would you like to do with your degree? Either be a personal trainer or a strength and conditioning coach somewhere.
One of your college choices was Toledo, did you get to know Coach Beckman through that process? I didn't, but I did meet him on one occasion that I can remember. It's funny how all that happened. Growing up, I went to a lot of NIU camps and (assistant coach Alex) Golesh was there. Growing up, he was my coach every summer. I went to the Toledo camp freshman year, ran a combine there and met up with (Golesh) again. They're my coaches now, so it's funny how it all worked out.
Tell us something people might not know about you. I put things on left to right, all the time. I'm left-handed. Shoes, everything. If I don't do it, I just feel weird.