September 20, 2002

Little Big Man

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One look at Cornell senior Keith Ferguson amongst a forest of gridiron Goliaths, and a spectator might draw comparisons between the 5-9 star wide receiver and the Biblical David. However, Ferguson does not view himself in such a light, and neither should anyone else.

“I don’t really look at it as a challenge,” Ferguson said of his small stature. “I just go out there and ball. It really doesn’t matter at all.”

“If you can play, you can play,” he added. “I don’t want to look at it as a David and Goliath story, because that’s just not me.”

What is undeniable, however, is Ferguson’s consistency over his first three seasons in a Cornell uniform. The elusive receiver burst onto the Ivy scene with 41 catches in his rookie campaign. He followed that breakout season with 41 receptions in his sophomore year and 50 more last season. Those 132 career catches puts Ferguson on the brink of history, as he needs just 44 more to break the Red’s career mark of 176, set by Eric Krawczyk ’97. In addition, Ferguson needs just 620 receiving yards to set the career yardage record.

While Ferguson’s statistics are remarkable, the offensive threat that he poses to defenses is even more striking.

“He knows where he needs to be to make those big plays,” junior wide receiver John Kellner said.

With his game-breaking ability, Ferguson, who hails from Friendly Senior High School in Washington, D.C., is often closely marked by opposing secondaries. Rather than viewing this as a hindrance, the wide out views it as both a compliment and a challenge.

“It’s what I wanted,” he said of the extra attention he receives. “When that happens, it means that you’ve really come up in the league, and people know what you can do. People know he’s a threat, and we need to watch him, because if we don’t, he’ll burn us.”

However, Ferguson’s value to the Red extends far beyond his on-field accomplishments, as he often leads by example and is a model for younger receivers on the squad.

“I’ll just watch Ferg in practice and in games, and you can learn a lot from him,” Kellner added. “One of his most valuable assets is that just by watching him, you can pick stuff that’ll improve your own game. He makes us all better. He’s a complement to all of us.”

Although Ferguson already ranked among the Ivy’s top receivers, he spent most of the offseason honing his skills.

“I went home for a week after school and came back to work with the team,” he said. “I got stronger, quicker, and faster. Anything I could do to get better as a football player, I did.”

The improvement has not been lost on head coach Tim Pendergast, who foresees an even better season for the senior.

“Keith has matured as a player. Last year, he’d try to go side to side,” Pendergast said. “Keith Ferguson now catches the ball and looks to go north or south. So should he be worth more yards this year? Yeah, if he keeps on doing what he’s been doing.”

Characterized by teammates as a silent leader, Ferguson has no qualms about speaking his mind on the battlefield. For Ferguson, trash-talking is the name of the game.

“On the field, it’s a competition. I’m going to talk to you the whole time,” Ferguson insisted. “It’s part of the game. When you do something, you need to let them know when you get back to the line. That’s what it’s about.”

Despite what he has already achieved, Ferguson remains hungry for both individual league recognitions and a championship in his final year on the East Hill.

“As far as the individual accolades recognized by the league, I haven’t done that yet,” he said. “But I’m not at all finished yet. There are still some things to be done, especially the [championship] ring.”

Archived article by Alex Ip