James Ferentz Speaks About Off-Field Scrapes

For the first time since being suspended from spring drills, James Ferentz spoke Friday about his arrests. The coach's son talked about living in the fishbowl, his relationship with family and what the future might hold. Read what he had to say in this HN.com interview transcript.

Q: Replacing Rob Bruggeman might not get the attention that replacing Shonn Greene does, but it might not be any less important. How is the competition going at center?

James Ferentz: Well, speaking of Rob, I was real fortunate last year to get to work underneath Rob and just watch everything he did. He's one of the best we've had here in the last 10 years, so I was really fortunate to get to learn from him. The competition so far this year, we've had one practice. It's real early, It's a lot of fun. It's just good to be out there competing.

Q: Is it a friendly competition?

JF: You know, we're all friends. But when you step on the field you have to put it aside. We're all battling for the same spot. But it's a lot of fun. It's fun to play football.

Q: How do you make up for missing some of spring practice and being suspended for the first game this year?

JF: You just have to improve every day, just like everybody else. Our job is to come out here and improve. Yeah, I'm a little further behind some of the other guys, but that's just something to keep in the back of my head to keep working harder.

Q: What did you take from last year, the off-field issues and growing up?

JF: I just learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about myself and am just really looking forward to this season.

Q: Do you feel like you left your teammates down, you dad down? Was that part of what made it hard?

JF: Yeah, there's all that, absolutely. But like I said, I learned a lot about myself and I'm just keeping my eyes forward on this season and trying to do well.

Q: We you surprised by all the reaction this got?

JF: Oh, I don't know. Yes and no, I guess. It is what it is and that's just the way it is.

Q: Do you think it's fair?

JF: Um, it doesn't really matter what I think about it. That's just the way it is. I'm just dealing with it.

Q: What do you learn from something like this?

JF: Yeah, I said it earlier. You learn a lot about yourself and it forces you to take a step and look at yourself. You learn a lot then you put your eyes forward on the goal of the upcoming season and try to help out the team as much as you can.

Q: What did you learn about yourself?

JF: Ah, just about who I really was; about who I really was. That's really all there was to it.

Q: Do you feel like people might have the wrong perception of you?

JF: The people that I care about and who care about me, I think, have the right opinion of me. And that's what really matters to me. But absolutely it hurts. But like I said, as long as people close to me know what I'm really all about, that's all that matters to me.

Q: Do you find out who your friends are in any kind of adversity that way?

JF: Absolutely. I think everyone finds out who their friends are when there are some low times. But I have a great family to rely on. I'm happy to have my dad who he is because he cares a lot about me. I have a good family, good support system and they were with me the whole way.

Q: How do you catch up being so far behind in reps?

JF: You can't. That's the tough part. You can't catch up on those reps you missed. There is not making up for that. There is no substitution for that type of experience. In that case, I have to work a little bit harder at film. I think I still have a fair chance, but wherever it ends up is where it ends up. I'm just happy to be a part of the team.

Q: Did you talk to Rob a lot?

JF: I got the chance to room with Rob last fall. Every night, I got to talk to him a bit and see how he goes into every practice prepared. Then in season, I was fortunate enough kind of get to look in a bit on how he prepared for games. So, yeah, I talked with Rob a lot last year. He's a great guy. He was a great leader. And he was rally a great mentor to have around. I'm really thankful to get to have a season with him.

Q: Where was the punishment worse, here or at home?

JF: (Laughs) They were both equally bad. They were both equally bad.

Q: As close as you are as a family, is there a natural worry for your dad because it's such a public deal?

JF: Absolutely, Absolutely. But like I said, we're pretty close knit. We can rely on each other a lot for support in tough times. Two thousand and seven wasn't the best time. We're just always there for each other and it's really comforting knowing that.

Q: Did he have any advice for you today knowing you were going to come out here and meet the press for the first time?

JF: He said to just be honest. There's no hiding what happened. It is what it is.

Q: Did you ever think about skipping this or is this something you just wanted to get over with?

JF: No, you can't skip it. You've got to face the music. You knew it was coming. It's just something you have to prepare for a little bit.

Q: What type of role did Brian play for you? He's been through the fishbowl.

JF: Brian has been great. Like Rob, he's a great mentor. He's someone I could talk to, call at times when I wasn't sure what to do or what to say. Brian has been really good and I'm really fortunate to have him help me get through things.

Q: Is this a hard town to be in when it's a fishbowl and you're the coach's son?

JF: My personal opinion is that you can look at it that way, but I also like to look at it like we're the only show in town. You have to love that. You have to love that everyone here is really supportive. The way that I see it is that we have great fans. We have great support. You have to love it. Everyone is here for you. I think it's a great place to play college football.

Q: Is it hard to have normalcy with the scrutiny and everything else?

JF: When you sign to come here, that's what you sign up for. Either you want that or you don't. If you don't, maybe it's not the best fit. I think everyone on the team, they love what we have here.

Q: Do you ever feel like you have a target on your back?

JF: Me personally? No. Not at all. I see myself as just another part of this team trying to work towards a common goal. I don't think there's a target on any individual player's back.

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