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Joe Ferguson waiting for his NFL chance

Catching up with the Madison native

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Ferguson, like many walk-ons before him, stepped up in a significant manner for Wisconsin during the 2017 season. With D’Cota Dixon injured for part of the year, the Madison Memorial product seamlessly transitioned in and made an impact, tying for the team lead in interceptions (four) while maintaining the Badgers’ dominance on the defensive end in 14 games played.

Leading up to the draft, Ferguson described his emotional state last week to B5Q as “pure excitement” while feeling prepared and not nervous.

After months of training, the former prep quarterback-turned safety wants to get back on the field to show what he can do.

“I feel that there’s no pressure for me,” said Ferguson, who played in 58 games, second all-time in FBS history behind teammate Leon Jacobs. “This game is just fun, and I just am excited. I can’t wait to figure out who wants to take a chance on me, and I want to go there and show them my best and see what happens.”

Ferguson trained at The Chamber in Davie, Fla., in preparation for Wisconsin’s Pro Day on March 14.

“We would run and do agility drills for a couple hours in the morning, and then we’d come back in the afternoon and do lifting,” Ferguson said. “We would do other accessory work, like we would do—it was really cool—neurological training. We would do some kind of MMA hand-fighting and stuff. It was really fun. I had a blast doing it. I remember just training, going to bed each day, I would be so excited for the next day because it was just so much fun.”

At UW’s pro day, Ferguson ran a 4.62-second 40-yard dash and a 4.03-second 20-yard shuttle. The latter would have tied him for first with Penn State’s Troy Apke among safeties at the NFL Scouting Combine. His 6.62-second three-cone drill would have been third among safeties. His broad jump was also the best of the day out of all pro day participants.

That translated to a workout with the Detroit Lions in Madison with teammates Natrell Jamerson and Nick Nelson. Outside of that, Ferguson has continued to work out in town and stay in touch with his agent, who has been gathering feedback from teams.

“It hasn’t been like some of these other guys,” Ferguson said. “Some of my other friends are going to all these visits, but they’re going to get drafted and I know that might not be the case for me, but that’s fine. I just want to do my best right now, and when I do get my chance, which I’m for sure I’m going to get, I’m going to make the most of it. So that’s kind of what’s been driving me right now.”

From there, it is just going out and demonstrating what type of player he is both on and off the field.

“When I get to minicamp or OTAs, I want to show first and foremost that I have the ability to do it, to do the job on special teams, and if need be, on defense,” Ferguson said. “On the other part of that, I just want to show who I am as a person and the teammate I am and the person I am, because I do think that’s really valuable to have good men on your team and good teammates to not so much lead people, but just to keep the group together and have everybody get along and work together as a team. Because I feel like that’s something that I’ve definitely worked on.

“With me, it’s not really fake. I really do genuinely care about the team and I care about my brothers, my team, regardless of position or age or ability. I just want to get out there and have fun, because that’s when I’m at my best, and that’s when I think people can see my value and when I play my best, so that’s really what I want to show when I get there.”