ST. CLAIRSVILLE - When you know something feels right, why wait?
That's the approach Red Devils' junior Michael Ferns took when he called the University of Michigan coaching staff Wednesday and gave a verbal commitment to join the Wolverines' program in the fall of 2014.
Ferns becomes the first commitment for Coach Brady Hoke's program for that class.
After making trips to the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Ohio State this summer, Ferns identified the Wolverines, Irish and Nittany Lions as his top three choices.
"After my second visit (to Michigan) and once I got everything figured out academically, I felt that I was ready to make the decision," Ferns said during a phone interview Thursday night. "I feel really good about my decision and I believe everything will work out this way."
Ferns had originally hoped to announce his decision Saturday, but word leaked through numerous recruiting sites and on Twitter.
"It got out, so now I can focus on the scrimmage this Saturday (against Magnolia)," Ferns said.
All along, Ferns said he liked the small-town setting, which all three of his final choices provided. So, what separated Ann Arbor?
"It reminded me a lot of a bigger St. Clairsville," Ferns said. "In terms of the community, the people, the coaches, I felt at home with it. I can definitely see myself there for four or five years and being happy, which was the most important thing."
Ferns and his dad visited Ann Arbor in June and then in late July the entire family made the trip to the annual Michigan Barbecue and it just re-affirmed to Ferns that it was the place for him.
"The first time I was up there it was just about getting acclimated, seeing the campus and that sort of thing," Ferns said. "But, the last time I was up there I really got to see the bond they have. It's a special group of people both in terms of the coaches and players. Plus, it's a good group to be around. They've got everything I was looking for in terms of academics and obviously the football program speaks for itself, so it was an easy decision."
Ferns' parents - Mike and Heidi - were 100 percent behind their son's decision, allowing him to make it solely on his own.
"My mom saw the campus and told me to do whatever I felt was right for me," Ferns said. "She loved the campus and everything about it and my dad told me he thought it was the right choice, too. So, once I heard that, I knew it was time to make the decision."
Ferns, who could be used at a bevy of positions, including linebacker, tight end, fullback or defensive end at the collegiate level,
Wherever he plays is okay with him and he'll spend the next two years preparing himself mentally and physically for the rigors of major college football, which lie ahead.
"I just have to keep improving and working to do my best," Ferns explained.
Ferns received more than 20 scholarship offers from the likes of Ohio State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and West Virginia on top of his Penn State and Notre Dame offers.
"It's been a hectic process, but I am happy that I had the chance to go through the process," Ferns said. "I met a lot of great coaches and people, and it was definitely hard to turn some people down, but in the end, I am happy with everything. I am ready to continue on with what I am doing."
Often times in recruiting you hear about players changing their minds and flip-flopping between schools. Don't expect to see Ferns doing that regardless of who might continue to recruit him until he formally signs his National Letter of Intent in Februrary of 2014.
"I am a solid verbal," Ferns said. "The recruiting thing ends for me. I am just focused on football season and school work at this point. I've got no plans of switching."
Because of his own schedule, Ferns hasn't exactly decided what Wolverines' game(s) he'll be able to attend this season, but getting to 'The Big House' this season is certainly on the to-do list.
"I am planning on going to a game or two," Ferns said. "Just not sure which ones or when it'll happen."
Ferns and the Red Devils open their regular season in less than two weeks against Wheeling Park at the OVAC McDonald's Kickoff Night at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"My focus is totally on the team and our season," Ferns said. "We're hoping for a really good season and not having this on my mind or anything definitely helps the process."
Ferns is one of two BCS-level commitments playing for the Red Devils this season. Wide receiver Dan Monteroso will sign with Boston College in February.
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