St. C.’s Ferns: A wanted man

Michael Ferns is living the dream right now.

The St. Clairsville sophomore has been drawing all kinds of attention on the collegiate recruiting scene despite the fact that he’s got two years of prep football remaining.

What started out as an offer from Marshall University in March has turned into an all-out recruiting frenzy that’s landed the 6-ft-3, 235 pound Ferns some 15 scholarship offers with probably plenty more on the horizon.

Along with the offers have come visits to the school from college football coaches from around the nation.

“Once my name got out there, everything has sort of taken its own course,” Ferns said. “Getting my name originally was probably the hardest part.”

That part can be challenging because, to be honest, major college recruiters aren’t scouring the Ohio Valley every day seeking players. Currently, only Dylan Potts of River is playing Division I football from The Times Leader’s coverage area.

“A recruiter told me that basically being in the area I am, it was unlikely that I’d get such big (school) looks,” Ferns said. “Since the Marshall offer, I’ve gotten so many more options.”

This past week must have felt like a blur for Ferns. Along with preparing for the district track and field meet and preparing for exams, he received five more offers, including one from Coach Urban Meyer and The Ohio State University.

The morning of the Buckeyes’ offer, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell visited St. C. High and then en route back to Columbus swung by Meadowbrook High School to watch Ferns and Steubenville’s Najee Murray, who’s already signed with the Bucks, compete in their district track meets.

While he had heard rumblings that Fickell was due in Belmont County, Ferns didn’t know anything for sure since NCAA rules prohibit that. However, a simple check of his Twitter feed made him quickly aware that Fickell was roaming the halls.

“Having Coach Fickell stop by the school and the track meet was probably one of the most exciting things that’s happened through this process,” Ferns said. “My classmates were Tweeting that they saw him in the halls and then at the (track) meet, I kind of felt bad because, at one point, people wouldn’t seem to leave him alone to watch the meet.”

Shortly after Fickell left St. C., Ferns got a message via Red Devils’ head coach Brett McLean to call OSU line coach Ed Warriner, who had visited St. C. a few weeks back.

After briefly talking with Warriner, he handed the phone to Meyer, who made the offer to join the Buckeyes in the fall of 2014.

“It really meant a lot to me,” Ferns said of the Buckeyes’ offer. “I know there are kids across the state that would do anything for the opportunity, so I am going to make sure I don’t neglect that in any way, but that shouldn’t be too hard to do.”

Later that day, Ferns, who is a standout in the classroom with better than a 4.0 grade point, also received offers from Illinois, Kent and Maryland. Just this past Friday, Ferns received an offer from West Virginia as assistant coach Steve Dunlap visited St. C.

While most high school kids are stoked for the upcoming summer vacation, Ferns is trying to figure out his itenteray of visits, camps, etc.

“Everything is still open because, at this point, we don’t know what will happen here in this next week,” Ferns said. “I’m not too sure about camps, but I know I’ll be making sort of a trip to most of the schools that have offered.”

While there’s no definite rush, Ferns has indicated he’d like to begin narrowing things down by the end of the summer before the Red Devils’ season gets cranked up.

“I think I’ll have more of a set list as the summer comes to an end, and I’ve made the visits that I have,” Ferns said. “By then, I should have an understanding of what it is I am looking for.”


Early last week, Ohio State University announced that it wasn’t renewing the contract of its softball coach, Linda Kalafatis, after 16 years at the helm.

Kalafatis and her coaching staff recruited and landed St. Clairsville’s Jesse Machovina, who signed her National Letter of Intent during the early signing period last November.

Machovina, however, isn’t wavering on her decision to head to Columbus despite admitting she was disappointed when she heard the news.

“The way I look at it if those coaches were still there, I’d have to prove myself to them to earn my position because they know what the other players can do,” Machovina said. “Now, I feel like the entire team has to prove itself to the new coaches, so nothing really changes for me.”

Machovina capped a brilliant prep career with an impressive senior season. She batted .602 with seven home runs, 32 RBI from the lead-off spot. She had 56 hits and struck out just once for the season.


The Cancer Research Coaches Clinic will be held on Sunday, Sept. 30 at Wheeling Jesuit University. The cost of the clinic is $75 for the first four coaches on the staff. The fifth-seventh coaches cost $60 per coach and after eight or more coaches it costs $50 for those coaches.

The list of speakers includes Naismith Hall of Famer Bob Hurley, Sr. of St. Anthony of New Jersey. Jerome Allen (Penn), Andy Toole (Robert Morris), Matt Langel (Colgate) and Danny Sancomb (Wheeling Jesuit) are also on the speaking agenda.


  • SHENANDOAH tapped former Glenville State All-American Kaleb Lawrence as its new head football coach during last Thursday’s Noble Local Schools Board of Education meeting. Lawrence was a former assistant coach at Ritchie County in West Virginia. He’s replacing Shadyside High product Tim Wilson at the helm of the Zeps’ program.
  • FORMER Harrison Central wrestling standout Darrin Heavilin continues to shine in the classroom at The Ohio State University. He was one of 548 Ohio State Scholar-Athletes honored this past week. Also honored was men’s swimmer Markus Seivers. The senior from Germany spent a year as a foreign exchange student at Martins Ferry where he earned all-Ohio accolades.
  • If you happen to pick up a copy of the latest edition of Sports Illustrated you’ll see high school basketball star Jabari Parker on the cover. Parker is the top-ranked player in the Class of 2013 at Simeon High School in Chicago. Parker was in Wheeling last January to play in the Cancer Research Classic event. Event director Dr. Gregory Merrick texted me last week to inform me that Parker and Simeon would be returning to the Friendly City for the 2013 event. Merrick intends to announce the “tentative pairings this summer.”

Staskey can be reached via email at or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth