While Brian Kelly wasn’t scheduled to meet with the media until after the Easter break, he spoke after practice Wednesday morning to confirm some rather big news. As already reported, Kelly confirmed a broken collarbone for Amir Carlisle and a shoulder injury for Chase Hounshell. As reported here, the shoulder injury was a serious one, and it will cost him the 2013 season as well, another tough break for the defensive end.
But in addition to the injury news, Kelly confirmed the departure of two young wide receivers. Last night the news broke about Davonte Neal. But Kelly also confirmed the departure of rising sophomore Justin Ferguson. The six-foot-2 wideout from Florida played mostly on special teams last season, and was fighting for time at outside receiver this spring before deciding to leave the program and school.
As he did with the Neal departure, BlueandGold.com’s Jason Sapp was all over the news, catching up with Ferguson’s father Jason.
“It’s more of a level of comfort,” Ferguson’s father told Sapp. “He didn’t provide specific reasons like playing time or anything because he hasn’t even come home yet since deciding, but I’ve been working with him through his feelings as well. I’m not pressuring him to stay. He talked to Coach (Brian) Kelly and he says he’s sure of his decision and Coach Kelly knows of his intentions.”
The elder Ferguson probably provided the best glimpse into the decision making process in the following statement:
“But unfortunately with this thing called football, it’s a business as well. And he has to make a decision that is the best for him in the long-term. He’s going to have to continue making those tough decisions as he grows up and becomes a man.
“And I’ll do my part to always assist in making sure it’s the right one.”
Reading between the lines a bit, it makes you wonder if Ferguson saw a logjam in front of him. Even with Neal’s departure, Ferguson was likely battling for time at the outside receiver spot, where Davaris Daniels has solidified himself and Chris Brown looks poised for action. Early enrollees James Onwualu and Corey Robinson have been practicing this spring. Will Fuller and Torii Hunter Jr. are set to arrive this summer.
What’s left this spring will be interesting. Little used Luke Massa is back after an injury last season. The move of CJ Prosise to wide receiver looks like a fortuitous one as well. Former basketball player Joey Brooks now has a significant opportunity in front of him, too.
Brian Kelly provided the most definitive statement on the transfers after practice.
“This is a process every year we go through. You have some additions, you have some deletions,” Kelly said. “But we didn’t miss a step.”
“They’re prepared for the next man in. They didn’t blink. Nor did I or the staff.”