On Saturday night, Ensworth High School out of Nashville, Tenn. placed a healthy beating on Lexington (Ky.) Catholic on national television. It was the second televised win of the year for the Tigers as they opened their season 2-0 in their quest for a three-peat state championship bid.
As impressive as Ensworth’s early start has been, even more impressive is that it has come while one of its best players has been sidelined with injury. Four-star running back Cornelius Elder has topped 200 yards rushing in each of the first two contests, but the “smash” to his “dash” has been watching from afar.
2012 was supposed to be a breakout season for junior D’Andre Ferby. The 6-1, 190-pound running back rushed for over 600 yards as a sophomore in 2011, bringing a power presence out of the backfield to help his team to a state championship. But just before the season kicked off for Ferby in 2012, he was forced to undergoe surgery to remove bone spurs in his foot.
“Everybody this summer was saying that this is going to be my breakout season and I thought hopefully it would,” Ferby said. “I gotta keep a positive attitude and when I come back, I’ve got to come back stronger and show everybody what I can do and I still have got next year.”
Fortunately for Ferby and for Ensworth, the season isn’t completely lost. Ferby expects to return in October for the latter half of the regular season and the playoff run. Considering that the big back unknowingly played through bone spurs all of last season, a healthy return could spell trouble for defenses.
Ferby is hopeful that a return could continue to spark some interest from colleges as well. Already he has garnered some attention, most notably from Vanderbilt.
“The main school showing interest is Vanderbilt,” he said. “Vandy interest is very strong. I appreciate that. They’re the first school that always showed me interest so they’ll always be at the top. I’m also hearing from Duke, Nebraska and Mississippi State but the Mississippi State interest was from Coach Angelo (Mirando) and I don’t think he’s there anymore.”
The only camp that Ferby was able to attend over the summer was the local Vanderbilt camp and Ferby receives the most communication from Vanderbilt offensive coordinator and running backs coach John Donovan.
Ferby’s new interest in Vanderbilt is a far cry from the school he grew up rooting for.
“I grew up a Tennessee fan,” he said. “My dad went there so I’ve always grown up forced to like UT. I like them too honestly but with the discipline issues with their players it’s kind of turned me away from them a little bit.”
Ferby was invited to attend Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp but partially due to his foot, he was unable to make it. The Buckeyes definitely have his attention though.
“I like Coach (Urban) Meyer. I really like his coaching ways and his attitude. I watched the Ohio State training camp on ESPN and I liked his attitude and coaching style towards players. That’s what attracted me.”
As effective as Ferby has been at the running back position, he also has the ability to project to the defensive side of the ball due to his athleticism and impressive frame. Upon his return to the field, safety or linebacker may be in Ferby’s future as well.
But as long as Ferby finds his way back onto the field, he’ll be happy, much more so than his opponents.