Eastern Ohio Gem: St. Clairsville’s Ferns one to watch


St. Clairsville’s Michael Ferns

Saint Clairsville sophomore LB/TE Michael Ferns is self-motivated. He excels at whatever he does including mastering the Rubik’s cube, teaching himself to play guitar, learning to read before elemntary school and…football. Ferns is a speciemen and on the radar of several big-time programs for good reason.

Saint Clairsville sophomore linebacker/tight end Michael Ferns is self-motivated.

reports that children learn pre-reading skills at age 4-5, and start
reading simple books by ages 6-10. Ferns accelerated at a much faster
rate, teaching himself how to read a couple years younger than that.

From there, the 6-foot-3, 238-pound Ferns has mastered several
different Rubik’s Cubes, taught himself a few songs on the guitar, and
the latest thing he’s dove into is photography. In school, Ferns has a
4.18 GPA and a 22 ACT score.

“He’s just always been the kid that makes the parent look
successful,” Ferns father, Michael Jr., started in. “The truth of the
matter is since he’s been little, he’s always taught himself how to do
things. He’s been that kid fixated on figuring something out till he
figures it out. When he gets dialed in on something, you could figure
it’s done.”

Ferns is the same way regarding athletics and football. Already
holding early scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Virginia, Wake Forest
and Marshall, with personal interest coming from the likes of Ohio
State, Penn State, Stanford and Duke, Ferns is always the first player
on the team asking head coach Brett McClean for the game tape and
scouting report of the next opponent so he can start breaking it down.

“He’s just a bright kid,” McClean said. “He’s obviously worked
very hard to be successful not in just the classroom but just as an
athlete in multiple sports. He’s a special kid. We have a lot of great
kids right now like we always have, but he’s just one of those one in a
million types that you’re not going to see more than once or twice as a
coach on the high school level. He has the grades and personality and
the athleticism.”

Growing up, Ferns always saw his parents on the computer messing
around with this new sensation known as the internet. The two-year old
didn’t want to be left out.

“He wanted to play on the computer so bad, and he’d keep asking
us what words were,” the elder Ferns said. “It just got to the point
where he taught himself how to read so he didn’t keep asking us. He was
in diapers. We bought him reading programs for kids ages 4-5, and it
wasn’t three weeks later we were buying the programs for ages 6-8. Over
the course of a month, he was on the internet. At that time it was dial
up, but he wanted to do it so bad.”

Long before he was putting on shows on the football field on
Friday nights, Ferns first performance came at the kindergarten
Christmas play.

“They had him read the whole play because they were trying to exploit the fact he could do it,” his dad laughed.

“I was always a little ahead of the time,” Ferns added. “I
remember being in diapers on the computer. I’d say I was a little
advanced back in day.”

Ferns is still advanced on the football field.

A two-year, two-way starter, Ferns came into his own this past
fall. In 12 games, he racked up 136 tackles, and on offense, he rushed
31 times for 441 yards and caught another 15 passes for 301 yards.

“He’s 6-3, 230-pounds and runs like a deer,” McClean said.

“Besides just his size advantage, he can do a lot of different
things. We lined him up at three different positions on offense. On
defense he’s an intellectual person, he can handle things a lot of
people couldn’t do. He’s like a coach on the field from his linebacker

Ferns wasn’t even thinking about being a major recruit until
Marshall got in touch with him on March 1 and offered that same day.

“That was the first time I talked to a Division-I football coach
about playing for a team and they ended up offering me and everything
shot up from there,” Ferns said.

Things began to really pick up for Ferns in April. He added an
offer from Virginia on the 17th and Notre Dame jumped in on the 27th.
Wake Forest offered on May 5 and Duke may be close to pulling the

“My Dad went out and bought a conversion van just for trips this summer,” Ferns laughed. “He’s all into it.”

Notre Dame is one of the schools he’s excited to go see. Ferns
has already begun to build a relationship with his recruiter Harry

“I didn’t expect them to offer me as soon as they did,” Ferns
said. “I thought I’d have to get to camp. I plan to go there for maybe
one or two days this summer.

“They’re not only a football school, they’re an academic school.
That is something I strive for. I look at the academic side because that
really matters for me. Football is going to end someday, and I’m going
to school for a reason. Not just to play football, but for a degree I
could use later in life.”

Ferns says he’s still learning about both Virginia and Wake
Forest, and they’re also on the docket for visits this summer. He’s
aiming to get back to both Ohio State and Penn State, two programs he
visited during his recent spring break.

Ohio State assistant coach Ed Warriner was at Fern’s school on Monday.

“We went up there and they took me around to the academic center
and took me on the field to watch practice and they invited me back for
camp in the summer,” Ferns began. “I’m looking forward to making that
trip when track is done.

“After Marshall offered me, they were the first big school to
contact me. I remember Coach McClean called me into his office and said
Ohio State called. That’s a big deal around here. I didn’t expect them
to make contact as soon as they did. My visit there was great. Being an
Ohio guy, Ohio State calling me is sort of a big deal if you live in

Helping Ferns learn how to breakdown film has been friend Lance
Mehl, a former Penn State All-American linebacker, who was drafted in
the third round by the New York Jets back in 1980. The two have also
been able to talk about the Nittany Lions program.

Penn State assistant coach Charlie Fisher will be out to see
Ferns next Monday, and the Nittany Lions are recruiting him as a tight
end/athlete at this point that could fit the same mold that Coach Bill
O’Brien had with Aaron Hernandez in the New England Patriots offense.

“I was amazed by Penn State,” Ferns said about his visit. “I went
up there for a day. I got to tour the facilities and the academic
center was located on the football premises. The coaching staff was
great talking to them. I definitely plan on taking a trip back there.
They’re high on my list moving forward and I look forward to more
contact with them in the future.”

Ferns isn’t sure what the future holds for him on the recruiting
trail and he’s not ready to name any early favorites, however one thing
is for sure, one he’s done learning photography, it will be on to
mastering something else.

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