Athens Academy’s offensive line will be the envy of many around the state of Georgia in any classification in 2020.
The unit features three players that weigh over 270 pounds. Senior Hugh Laughlin is new to the offensive line after playing tight end for the last three years, but he’s already slated to head to the University of Virginia next fall. Johnerio Holt is only a junior, but he’s projected to play Division I football at some point after his high school days finish.
The third of the trio is considered the big brother of the offensive line room. John Ferguson has been a starter for the Spartans since his sophomore season.
Holt immediately clicked with Ferguson. Holt transferred to Athens Academy from Athens Christian after his freshman year. He was learning a new offense and a new culture at Athens Academy.
Ferguson was always the one he could lean on for information.
“I felt like John (Ferguson) was like the big brother,” Holt said. “He knew how to play all the positions on the line. Whenever you have a question or you’re unsure about something you could always go to him and ask. He’s basically the coach on the field. He was always there when you needed help.”
Ferguson has experience. He also happens to be an intelligent person. Ferguson maintains a 3.9 grade point average heading into his senior year. His play on the field coupled with his academic prowess has garnered the attention of a few Ivy League schools and multiple others that have high academic standards.
Ferguson has scholarship offers from Colgate University, Davidson College, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, Wofford College, Bryant University, Lafayette College, Stetson University, College of William and Mary and Fordham University.
Playing college football sits high atop the list of things Ferguson wants to accomplish. Life without football is something he actively wants to be prepared for.
“You can’t make your whole life football,” Ferguson said. “After those four years in college, a degree from one of those schools is better than any other school in the country.”
Ferguson has seen glimpses of how quickly sports can go away. Throughout much of last three seasons Ferguson has been hampered by a shoulder injury. Ferguson dislocated the shoulder during the season and fought through the injury for much of the season.
He admits it didn’t affect him much on the field. Ferguson only experienced trouble lifting his arms above his head during game, which as an offensive lineman isn’t needed as much if he’d played another position.
Ferguson continued to play for his teammates. The Spartans entered last season after back-to-back losses in the Class A Private state championship game.
“I mainly was trying to win a state championship,” Ferguson said. “We lost two years in a row and that was frustrating.”
Ferguson’s physical sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed by teammates.
“He loves being around everybody and he’ll put his body on the line to help everybody be better,” Laughlin said. “He pushes me to want to be more like him. He’s a dog. No matter what, he’ll keep playing through it.”
Ferguson eventually suffered a torn labrum and was forced to have pins placed in the shoulder to repair the damage during basketball season.
As teams have been allowed to begin conditioning after being inactive for nearly three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferguson has made his return to workouts as well.
He is still limited but being back around his teammates in a football setting has been a refreshing experience.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Ferguson said. “I was getting tired of working out by myself in my basement. Its good to see new faces as well.”