It was an unfortunate, scary and infuriating situation that compelled defensive tackle Ego Ferguson to leave LSU with a year of eligibility remaining.
But he couldn’t argue with his heart.
‘‘I just want to take care of my mama,’’ the 6-3, 315-pound Ferguson said after the Bears selected him with the 51st pick on the second day of the draft Friday.
His mother, Brenda Bryant, injured her back breaking up a fight while working at a juvenile-detention center. She’s getting better, Ferguson said, but her rehab continues.
‘‘It was a tough decision,’’ Ferguson said. ‘‘But my mom, she got hurt on the job and she wasn’t able to work, and I knew that my family needed me. So my decision that I made was a family decision.’’
The Bears’ decision to take Ferguson is puzzling, especially for a team operating in a win-now window. Defensive tackle was considered a priority heading into the second day of the draft, and adding Ferguson and Arizona State’s Will Sutton in the third round definitely bolsters their depth at the position.
But Ferguson comes with only one year of starting experience at LSU and might take some time to develop. In 12 games as a starter last season, Ferguson had 58 tackles, 31/2 tackles for loss, three passes broken up, three pressures and one sack. He also missed the Tigers’ victory against Iowa in the Outback Bowl for violating team rules, and a high ankle sprain limited him at the combine.
‘‘I feel like I have a lot of upside,’’ Ferguson said. ‘‘I just feel like I’ve been put in an opportunity with the perfect team, and I just want to make the best of it.’’
The Bears’ selection of Ferguson received immediate criticism from ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, who called it a reach.
‘‘I mean, that’s all motivation,’’ Ferguson said. ‘‘I would tell them to watch out for me. That’s all I can say.’’
Ferguson is regarded as a solid run-stopper, and that’s why the Bears targeted him, general manager Phil Emery said. The Bears were last in the NFL against the run last season.
Ferguson said defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni sees him as a two-technique tackle (over the guard). Emery, who had a goal of drafting two defensive tackles Friday, said Ferguson also will work at three-technique, at least initially.
‘‘He’s a very powerful, very strong, tough inside player,’’ said Emery, who noted Ferguson’s performances against Alabama, Mississippi State and Georgia. ‘‘He controlled the front.’’
Emery said a developmental plan will be important for Ferguson, who could stand to improve as a pass rusher.
‘‘I like players that still have something to grow into,’’ Emery said.
That’s how Ferguson feels about himself, too.
‘‘I always have room to develop,’’ he said, ‘‘but I feel like I can come in and contribute.’’