Heralded FCS quarterback Chris Ferguson leaving Maine to enter transfer portal

University of Maine's Chris Ferguson scores a second-quarter touchdown during a college football game at Fenway Park in Boston as part of the Fenway Gridiron series on Nov. 11, 2017. (John Tlumacki/Getty Images)

Chris Ferguson, the quarterback who led Maine to unprecedented success in the FCS playoffs in 2018, told Yahoo Sports on Monday that he is leaving the school on a graduate transfer.

Ferguson will have one year of eligibility remaining and is looking to transfer to an FBS school that fits his pro-style skill set. He’s entering the NCAA transfer portal, one of the first experienced quarterbacks to position himself on this year’s transfer market. Ferguson, who is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, started three seasons at Maine. That included throwing 22 touchdowns last season in leading the Black Bears to the FCS playoff semifinals for the first time in school history.

Ferguson has played at Maine under coach Nick Charlton, who got promoted from offensive coordinator last year. Charlton is a former graduate assistant under Ryan Day when Day was the offensive coordinator at Boston College and is considered one of the bright young offensive minds in college football.

Charlton is disappointed that Ferguson is leaving but supportive of his conviction in pursuing a career at a higher level.

“He has all the arm talent,” Charlton said via phone on Monday. “He can play FBS football, certainly he’s talented enough. He’s a true drop-back passer, a good decision-maker who we asked to do a lot and an unbelievable competitor.”

Ferguson, 21, started 28 games over three seasons at Maine after redshirting his first year. He threw five touchdowns in a playoff game against FCS power Jacksonville State last season and three touchdowns in an upset win over Western Kentucky. He was recruited out of LaSalle College High School in the Philadelphia area by Charlton and current Los Angeles Rams assistant coach Liam Coen. (Ferguson is the 10th of 11 kids in a family that includes nine sisters.)

Maine quarterback Chris Ferguson hands off the ball to Joe Fitzpatrick. (Ben McCanna/Getty Images)

Ferguson started six games this season before tearing a ligament in his right foot in October. He had Lisfranc surgery with noted foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay and his doctors have projected he will be healthy enough to take part in spring football at his next school.

“I’m looking for that next jump, that higher level of competition,” Ferguson said. “I’ve had some real successful seasons at Maine, but I’m looking to play against the best competition and be in a place where I can grow.”

Ferguson has trained in the offseason with John Beck, the former BYU and NFL quarterback who trains many high-end NFL quarterbacks. Beck said that Ferguson has impressive physical tools. “Here’s an NFL prospect that was hidden in Maine,” Beck told Yahoo Sports. He added of the workouts: “If he walked onto the field wearing a Florida shirt or a Georgia shirt, you’d be talking about him having an opportunity to play at the next level.”

Ferguson has great size and solid arm strength, as Beck said that Ferguson reminds him of former NFL teammate Marc Bulger. He said Ferguson’s delivery from when his front foot goes down to when the ball leaves his hand is as fast as any player in college. “He has the body and brain and work ethic,” Beck said. “I’d love to see him play and what he can do at a bigger level.”

Charlton said one of the difficult parts of Ferguson transferring was how close he was to his teammates and how much of a “team guy” he was in his four seasons there. Ferguson expressed his appreciation for his coaches and teammates at Maine and said he looked forward to building that type of bond with a new group.

“Wherever I go, I want to put everything that I have in the program and give everything I’ve got for them,” Ferguson told Yahoo Sports. “I’m going to have a lot of pride in being part of that place.”

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