Counting down the 50 most important Illini
No. 14: Josh Ferguson, running back
Why he’s important: He’s elusive. When healthy. He’s productive. When healthy. The sophomore has missed 12 games during his two seasons in Champaign-Urbana because of injuries. Avoiding those ailments and staying on the field the whole season are key factors when it comes to Ferguson, who can be utilized in a multitude of ways in Bill Cubit’s new offense. If he does lead Illinois in all-purpose yards like he did a year ago (907), chances are Tim Beckman would like to see the total number of yards a bit higher. Ferguson was the only bright spot offensively in a dismal 45-14 loss at Arizona State, rushing for a career-high 101 yards on only 14 carries. His favorite athlete is former Oregon standout LaMichael James, currently of the San Francisco 49ers. A 1,000-yard season isn’t out of the question for Ferguson, who missed most of the spring with injury, allowing Donovonn Young and Dami Ayoola to get increased reps. He has shown flashes of his promise in spurts so far in his Illinois career. Now Ferguson just needs to do so throughout the entire course of a season.
Fast fact: The Joliet Catholic product who played at Memorial Stadium in 2009 when his Hilltoppers narrowly lost the Class 5A state title game to Montini 29-28 (Ferguson had 96 rushing yards on 23 carries) picked Illinois ahead of offers from Air Force, Ball State, East Carolina, Memphis, Ohio and Toledo.
Tomorrow: No. 13