Panthers No. 45: Is Jason Ferris the NFL’s next small school star?

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Carolina Panthers helmet
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Carolina Panthers helmet /

Could undrafted free-agent linebacker Jason Ferris become the NFL’s next small school star if he impressed during training camp with the Carolina Panthers?

The Carolina Panthers are just 45 days away from their week one encounter against the Las Vegas Raiders. There are plenty of big decisions to be made between now and then. But providing everything starts on time in the current climate, getting back to the field will be something of a relief given the frenzied period of activity in recent months.

Rebuilds of this magnitude normally take some time. The Carolina Panthers placed a significant amount of faith in Matt Rhule to turn around their fortunes. And the former Baylor head coach has been ruthless during a difficult first few months at the helm.

Whether this comes with immediate success is another matter entirely. Carolina’s lack of time together during season preparations will no doubt hamper them early on. And it remains to be seen how the group comes together on and off the field.

Their offense appears ready to hit the ground running providing Carolina’s protection holds up. But the Panthers’ defense remains a relatively unknown quantity barring two of three experienced veterans slotted into starting roles.

Continuing our countdown feature ahead of the new season, we now turn our attention to Carolina’s No. 45. Jason Ferris put up some lofty numbers during his college career at Montana Western. But he was not able to hear his name called during the 2020 NFL Draft.

Jason Ferris comes to the Carolina Panthers with an impressive resume

There is little doubt that Ferris was a big fish in a small pond at the Bulldogs. He arrived with the program as a two-time state champion with Beaverhead County High School. And the linebacker more than lived up to his billing to become one of the team’s greatest ever players.

Ferris took his game to new heights in 2019, something which clearly caught the eye of Carolina’s scout team. The versatile player thrived in the position of the team captain to lead the Frontier conference with 119 tackles. He also attained ten tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, seven pass deflection, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown, and a blocked kick.

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He was ranked No. 3 in the country in tackles per game with an eye-catching 11.9 average. And Ferris was No. 8 nationwide in forced fumbles. This earned him a second-straight First-Team AP All-American selection to further indicate his potential.

Ferris’ 2018 was equally as impressive. He was a dominant force at the second level on his way to 125 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, 12 pass breakups, and three interceptions to achieve the Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

This might be a fantastic resume heading into the next level. But Ferris will be facing an almost unmeasurable step up in class.

His ability to play anywhere across the linebacker spots will stand him in good stead. But with no preseason games on the schedule due to the current climate, Ferris and others face a challenging few weeks in their attempts to catch the eye.

Few would argue he isn’t deserving of such an opportunity. And there might be an opening on the depth chart for an under-the-radar individual such as Ferris if he wows the Panthers’ coaching staff in a short space of time.

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