2006-05-19 / Sports

First Round Pick Ferguson Feels At Home On The Jets Gridiron

By Brian Bohl

When the Jets chose D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a top-rated offensive lineman from the University of Virginia, with the fourth overall pick in last month's draft, the name sounded strange to some, but it was very familiar to others.

Ferguson, who graduated from Freeport high school in 2002, gets to return home to Long Island to pursue his professional career.

"I don't think there could be a better feeling," Ferguson said at a news conference. "Whenever you can come back home, it definitely speaks volumes and I'm real proud to be a part of this organization."

Ferguson will now be practicing 10 miles away from the place he use to dominate in high school. Playing for Freeport High School head coach Russ Cellan, the religious studies graduate made a name for himself by becoming one of the best prep tackles in the country.

As a three-year starter at Freeport, Ferguson was a Newsday All-State honoree and the recipient of the Thorpe Award as Nassau County's top player. He will now look to carry that amateur success to the team he grew up rooting for.

"I love the Jets," he said. "I think this is a dream come true. I know that I'm welcome here at this city. It is my home. This is where I plan to stay. So let's make it happen."

When Ferguson was a freshman at Freeport, he was not sure if football would be in his future. After a rough stretch during practice for his junior varsity team, he thought about quitting until Tim Halversen, his JV coach, talked to him about having patience.

One year later, that move would pay off. Ferguson made the varsity team. His family said he will use that lesson in perseverance as he gets ready to take on the next challenge in his career. His father, Edwin Ferguson, warned reporters that his son's soft exterior should not be confused for a lack of intensity on the field.

"If I could interject something, it's not really mirrored on his face, but I wouldn't want you to get on his wrong side," he said. "Brick is a good actor. He can hide it real well."

With USC quarterback Matt Leinart still available and a trade for Reggie Bush still a possibility, the Jets brass decided to stay pat with the number four pick and take a player that will be the centerpiece of a rebuilt offensive line.

"We're extremely happy about D'Brickashaw," new head coach Eric Mangini said. "With my background on defense, one of the things I appreciate the most is a good [left tackle]. If you look at it defensively, you're always looking for a weakness, which is normally at the LT. For us to get an LT of D'Brickashaw's caliber and the type of program he's from, he's a nice fit for us in terms of what we need. We're excited to get D'Brickashaw here."

Ferguson's first name was a hot topic of conversation immediately after he was selected in the draft. When asked about the origin of his name, he said it came from the 1983 television mini-series "The Thorn Birds," in which the main character's name was a priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart.

"It was a great epic between this guy's love for God and his love for this girl he fell in love with. There's great interplay," Ferguson said. "Out of that came a name D'Brickashaw. So that's the story in a nutshell."

His talents extend beyond the gridiron. Ferguson works as a youth minister and completed his degree in religious studies in three and a half years. He also plays the saxophone.

"I studied different world religions. Even in New York, we know that we have many different religions. It's a multi-cultural area. I think it just helps me understand people."

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