NFL prospect spending draft day picking up pieces from tornado
Jaylon Ferguson is hours away from being a millionaire. He just may not know about it when it happens.
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The defensive lineman from Louisiana Tech is projected as a second-round pick in 2019’s NFL Draft, set to get underway Friday. He missed day one: He was picking up the pieces from a tornado.
A line of severe storms rolled through Louisiana late Wednesday into Thursday and sparked an EF3 tornado — with winds up to 140 mph — in Ruston, Louisiana, the home of Louisiana Tech University. It devastated the community and killed two people.
Ferguson’s home survived, but he hit the streets of his town to help others — most without power.
“It’s just a rough time. The power is still out for a lot of people right now,” Ferguson told ABC News on Thursday night. “A couple people lost their lives, a lot of people lost their property in all of this.
“Luckily nobody [I know] was seriously injured, but I know some people lost their property, and some people are still missing right now,” he added. “So, we been out all day helping people.”
Getting in touch with Ferguson wasn’t easy. Cellphone service was down for the entire town.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter spoke to Ferguson’s agent, who said he wasn’t sure his client would even be able to be contacted by prospective teams to tell him he’d been picked.
“Instead of having a draft party and celebrating a lifelong dream, he’s out helping other people,” Ferguson’s agent, Safarrah Lawson, said Thursday. “It speaks to this young man’s character.”
The Louisiana Tech campus was seriously damaged in the storms, including the baseball, softball and soccer fields. Ferguson is originally from Zachary, Louisiana, just north of Baton Rouge, but he’s lived in Ruston since coming in 2014.
“Ruston has been my home the last five years,” he told ABC News. “They show me love and a lot of the fans that come to the football games are the same people out in the community that’s having trouble right now. Being a football player and being an alumni of Louisiana Tech University, it’s only right for me to come back and help. I’m at home right here. It’s nothing to give out help, pick up some branches, go buy a pack of water, or a couple of pizzas. It’s nothing to do that for people who really need it.”
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound player is no shrinking violet on the field. He was well aware he set a school record with 45 career sacks.
“Yeah, I’m the ‘Sack Daddy,'” he said. “Just all the sacks I got, over and over and my teammates, one day, they were just joking around, like, ‘Oh you’re the sack daddy now, you’re the sack daddy,’ and it just stuck with me.”
He’ll be waiting to see when he goes off the board Friday night.
“To have a chance to play in the NFL, that’d mean everything,” Ferguson said. “It’s literally like a lifelong dream for me.”
He added, “I just want to play for the people of Ruston.”
ABC News’ Mya Green contributed to this report.
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