The criteria for selecting a school doesn't differ much among today's prospective college football athletes. Playing time, tradition, location, and academics are among the most prevalent factors considered. What does vary, however, is the weight of those factors in each player's decision. Academics are often mentioned as one of the most significant factors in these choices, but often times in the end they are outweighed but others. That was not the case with Michigan's newest commitment, Staten Island (NY) New York Monsignor Farrell defensive end, John Ferrara.
Throughout his entire process, Ferrara made it clear that academics would be as important as any other factor in his decision…probably more so. The challenge was finding a school that met his standards both in and out of the classroom. In order to do that, he and his family set out on a number of campus visits in an attempt to gain a better feel what each program really had to offer. After returning from their trek, it was clear to the Ferraras that Michigan had set itself apart.
"Michigan began recruiting him after his sophomore season," said Ferrara's dad Anthony. "He had gone to varsity and he did very well that year. Penn State and a few other schools started recruiting him too. We then took a trip out to Michigan for a junior recruiting day. I think that's when I realized first that it was better school than most, as far as academics and the type of football that he wanted to play. When we started looking into it, it was a long process of weeding out schools. John has a running 97 average, he has been National honor society two years in a row, and he teaches CCD…so he has a good academic background. So we set up some criteria…what were the best football schools and what were the best academic schools? When we started lining them up, we started realizing that Michigan was always coming out on top. This summer we went on another trip through the Big Ten. When we stopped off at Michigan it really started coming together that it was the right school for him."
Before the Wolverines came to the table with their offer, Penn State, Michigan State, Duke, Northwestern, Rutgers, and Ole Miss already had. He was also receiving heavy interest from Stanford. Prolonging his process to take a few visits to learn more about the other schools was certainly an option, but for the Ferraras it just wasn't necessary. Once the Wolverines made it clear that they wanted him, John wasted little time in informing them that he wanted them right back.
"I believe last Wednesday John called up his recruiting coach (Steve Stripling)," Mr. Ferrara said. "We sent them tape of the first three games, and he wanted to find out if they had watched it yet. He and [Coach Stripling] got to talking and [Stripling] asked him to call Coach Carr in the morning if he had a free period. About 11:00 in the morning he called up Coach Carr, they started to talking, and Coach Carr offered him. John wanted to come home to talk to me about it first. When we got home I said, ' John, basically it's one of those things where you know Michigan is the right fit for you. It was always on top of your list. What purpose would it serve to go on with the recruiting process if this is the one place you wanted to go and that you felt is right for you?' So he made his decision and we called up Coach Carr. I thanked him and he assured me that he would do everything in his power to make sure John's ambitions came true. At that point I gave John the phone and he committed."
In Ferrara the Wolverines picked up a player that has a reputation of going until the whistle is blown. In 2004 he notched 83 tackles, 13 sacks, 13 pass deflections, and five forced fumbles on his way to earning first team All-Borough, second team all-city, NY Daily News All-City, and Staten Island Advance All-Star honors. So far this year the 6-5, 260-pounder is averaging about eight tackles per game and has about six sacks for 4-3 Monsignor Farrell. His constant motor was again on display in last weekend's 31-7 victory over visiting St. Joseph by-the-Sea.
"His game is all about hustle," said Mr. Ferrara of his son. "He's relentless when it comes to chasing plays down. He's not like your regular lineman. He'll chase a play 30 yards downfield, which he did this Saturday. He beat a block in the middle, the play bounded outside, the guy got loose and he was running down the field free. John chased down a running back."
According to Monsignor Farrell Coach Ben Sarullo, his star pupil could line up at a number of positions during his collegiate career in Ann Arbor. “Michigan tells me that he has the frame to bulk up and play (offensive) tackle," Sarullo told Scout.com's Chris Pool. "They also feel that he could be a tight end for them. John is very good on the defensive side of the ball for us, so I wouldn’t rule out the fact that he could end up on the defensive line.”
Wherever he lines up, John Ferrara's passion for the game will be an asset for the Maize and Blue.