West Marshall’s Ferch makes it official, signs with Northern Iowa

Heading into his junior season on the gridiron, West Marshall senior Duncan Ferch was unsure if playing football in college was in his future.

Ferch was a standout basketball player and also really good in track and field.

But 2,264 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns in 2012 sent him in the right direction pretty quickly. He followed those numbers up with 2,010 yards and 25 scores in 2013 and that opened up they eyes of college coaches around the Midwest.

Choosing between Northern Iowa, Illinois State and North Dakota State, Ferch made a verbal commitment to the instate Panthers during his official visit on Nov. 24 and made things official Wednesday when he inked his National Letter of Intent.

“I went on a visit in November and got along really well with the players, and the coaches are great,” said Ferch, who is currently averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game for the Trojan basketball team which is 15-3 on the season.

Ferch plans to major in education, and Northern Iowa’s program is top-notch, which helped the West Marshall senior in the decision-making process.

Ferch never really considered basketball as a collegiate option. He just never knew fully if he was going to play football. Not until that junior season when he also had three kickoff returns and two punt returns for touchdowns.

“I didn’t play running back until my junior year, but once I did, I fell in love,” said Ferch, who played behind his brother Dalton until taking over the reins in the backfield. “I love playing offense and love running the ball.”

Ferch is listed as an “athlete” on Northern Iowa’s signing day press release.

The West Marshall senior expects to redshirt next season and then get every opportunity to play running back for the Panthers.

“He will fit in very well,” said Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley. “He fits into the UNI mold. He is very athletic and has huge upside.

“We redshirt 99 percent of the freshman that come into our program, but we will look at him at running back first.”

David Johnson has one more year as the Panthers’ starting running back. He rushed for 1,286 yards and 10 scores last year, while junior-to-be Evan Williams and sophomore-to-be Tyvis Smith compiled 184 and 155 yards, respectively, last year.

Besides Ferch, the Panthers also signed three other instate running backs, including Waukee’s A.J. Allen, Waukon’s Marcus Weymiller and Davenport Central’s Cameron Pugh.

“One of the reasons we like Duncan is because he comes from a good football program in West Marshall,” Farley said. “He also had a good football family with his two brothers playing for Iowa State. Duncan is competitive, well rounded and has all the intangibles, as well.”

Both Iowa and Iowa State were in talks with Ferch, but the West Marshall senior said he didn’t have much contact with either program once he committed to the Panthers.

Three-time defending national champion North Dakota State had Ferch in town on an official visit when ESPN’s College Gameday was in town.

While that experience will be one Ferch will never forget, he just felt like Northern Iowa wanted him more.

Ferch is one of 23 total players in the Panthers’ 2014 class.

Twelve of those athletes are from the state of Iowa, including all-staters Allen and Weymiller as well as Sioux City East wide receiver Ronald Nash, Grinnell quarterback Eli Dunne, Waterloo West linebacker Blake Thomas and Cedar Falls linebacker Jared Farley.

“The class is represented by what Duncan is,” Coach Farley said. “It is made up of guys in Iowa who played 2-3 sports and are athletic and versatile. We are really happy with the guys we got in this class.”

Ferch will study education with the hopes of one day becoming a junior high or high school history teacher.