NORTH BEND — It was always sort of expected Jacob Ferenczi would be a football player.
He was so big at birth that his mother, Tamra, joked about which NFL coach they should call. He was so big in fourth grade that when a teacher suggested he play football, he responded doubtfully that he didn’t want to hurt anyone.
Those fears, though, were obviously overcome and the three-year starter at North Bend signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play football at Oregon State University. Ferenczi will greyshirt, meaning he’ll join the Class of 2020, enrolling next winter, and have a full year to develop physically in preparation for college football.
“I’m excited for it, honestly,” Ferenczi said of waiting until next year to truly get going. “Like my mom said, I’ve always been the youngest. I’m still 17. I don’t turn 18 ‘til June. I’m big, but I’m not big compared to other kids that are a year older than me who are in college. Also, lineman are players like, you can get a true freshman starting at pretty much any position, but it’s pretty much unheard of for O-line unless they’re some freak of nature. So they need that time to develop. So given that greyshirt I get a year and a half to develop…I’m gonna get bigger and stronger and be hopefully ready to go when I get my four years of eligibility.”
After a some years of soccer at The Lighthouse School, which shored up his commendable footwork, Ferenczi followed his brother, Daniel, from Gardiner to North Bend, where he joined the Bullpups football team and truly got on the radar of North Bend High School head coach Gary Prince and the Bulldogs.
Prince was already aware of the always big Ferenczi and was excited to finally get ahold of him. As the only sophomore starting on the offensive line, Ferenczi helped North Bend to its first state title in the 90-plus year history of the school.
For the next two seasons, Ferenczi was a team captain, which in Prince’s program is not taken lightly. Prospective captains must first apply for captainship through Prince, are voted on by their teammates and then must go through leadership classes with Prince to make them actual leaders.
Prince said Ferenczi was always one of the best leaders on the team, taking his position seriously and always leading by example.
Ferenczi’s recruiting process started when he was 15 when he attended the Northwest Showcase Camp, which is something like the Senior Bowl but for high schoolers to get exposure.
There he caught the eye of Steve Greatwood, then the offensive line coach at the University of Oregon, and began working individually with former Oregon State lineman Alex Linnenkohl, honing the minute details that can make linemen great.
Ferenczi developed a relationship with Greatwood over time, but never received an offer from the Ducks.
But when Oregon made a coaching change and went to Willie Taggart, Greatwood wasn’t retained and moved down to the University of California, Berkeley, which started to recruit Ferenczi but also never offered a scholarship.
Before his senior season, Ferenczi was thinking he’d attend Portland State, as that was the only scholarship offer he’d received.
But a late flurry of interest drew his eye elsewhere. Cal managed to lure him down for a couple of visits. The University of Washington wanted him to come to a camp so they could see him up close. The University of Utah came calling, as did several Ivy League schools in the Northeast.
“He just got hit by all these emails and transcripts,” Tamra said.
But the one school Ferenczi was hoping for, Oregon State, came around and the deal was essentially done.
“I like Portland State,” Ferenczi said. “I really like the coaches and I’ll always have a spot for ‘em because they were my first offer, but I’ve been pushing toward Oregon State. It’s something I've always wanted. I’ve been going to their games since the end of my junior year. I started going to all their games, just been a big fan of them.
“I really like their coaching staff. Coach (Jim Michalczik), Coach (Jake) Cookus and Coach (Jonathan) Smith, they’re all great people. The facility and Corvallis is a great town.”
“They’re giving him the best chance to succeed,” Tamra said. “And I think he’s gonna do really, really well when he actually gets there.”
First, they started asking about his football, but then their inquiries changed to life: things like academics and whatnot.
It was then that Ferenczi realized the Beavers coaches were serious. That they wanted to know more about things outside football was the moment Ferenczi knew they wanted him to play for them, confirming his desire to play for them.
And, for the parents, it’s only a relatively short trip north to watch their son play.
With all that interest, Ferenczi always had a list of boxes that needed checked, never settling for a school that didn’t fill all the criteria.
Tamra told a story about Ferenczi receiving interest from the Ivy League schools and asking his parents if they wanted him to go to school and play on the east coast. When they balked, he matter-of-factly took them off the list.
When Utah came calling, Ferenczi researched the year-round weather in Salt Lake City and decided that wasn’t a place he wanted to live. He did his due diligence when choosing schools, backing up his 3.98 GPA, where the only B came in Spanish 3 as a freshman.
“He did have a lot of coaches wanting him to come to camps and coaches wanting him there,” Tamra said. “Once he knew he was gonna play college football, he said, ‘I’m content not to go there. I would rather go here than there.’ And that’s kind of how he picked and chose where he would go to a camp.”
Ferenczi isn’t the only South Coast football player to choose Oregon State.
He’ll join Cory Stover, who signed with the Beavers during the early signing period in December.
“It’s really awesome,” Ferenczi said of playing with, not against, Stover. “I can’t wait to get down there.”