'06 Unwrapped: John Ferrara

Stanford has snared commitments from New York in each of its last two recruiting classes, and the best bet to keep that string alive come February is Staten Island's John Ferrara. The 6'5" 260-pound two-way standout plays in a state with little prestige on the national scene, but that has hardly tempered the heat of his recruitment.

One of the last places commonly considered on the recruiting map for Stanford holds a promising prospects for the Cardinal this year.  Staten Island (N.Y.) Monsignor Farrell High School senior defensive lineman John Ferrara has racked up six scholarship offers to date and has numerous schools close behind.  A three-star prospect ranked #7 overall in the state by Scout.com, the Empire State standout has rides available from Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Rutgers, Ole Miss and Duke.

"In May, it was wild," Ferrara describes.  "Coaches were coming every day, pulling me out of class.  It was crazy, but I kept my grades up - for Stanford."

With an unweighted 95% average on his transcript (97% weighted) and a 1650 on the SAT, the Staten Island student-athlete submitted his admissions application to The Farm at the end of July.  Ferrara's fingers have been crossed ever since.

"I'm very anxious and still waiting.  It's hard," he admits.  "I really want to be admitted to the school."

"I'm still very interested.  I hope they offer me," Ferrara adds.  "It's just a great school - one of the best in the nation.  And they play really good football in the Pac-10.  I've heard wonderful things about the place.  Whenever I mention Stanford to the people around here, I hear nothing but the best things.  And it's supposed to be a beautiful campus."

The Staten Island standout has never been to The Farm, though his parents caught a memorable look during their honeymoon to California.  Ferrara has not been shy about traveling to recruiting destinations, however.  The summer of 2004, this past winter and this recent summer, he made his way to more than 20 schools in the Midwest and Atlantic regions.  Those were all unofficial visits, so when and where will he take his official trips?

"I'm really focused on my season right now.  I'm not worried too much about that right now," he answers.  "Recruiting will take care of itself."

"I'll schedule my official visits after my season," Ferrara continues.  "I don't want to commit to any visits now because there are schools who have not offered yet.  I don't want to set up something and then later have to change it because another offer came along.  After my season, I'll look at my offers and set things up."

He adds that he will "definitely" give the Cardinal one of his official trips, should he gain acceptance and receive a scholarship offer.  For the time being, though, Ferrara is focused on his senior season at Monsignor Farrell.  The Lions started off well at 2-0, including a win over (Brooklyn) Xaverian, but they were throttled the next week by (Long Island) St. Anthony's and then dropped a heartbreaker last Saturday to (Queens) Holy Cross.  The second loss came despite a 14-3 lead in the fourth quarter that faded to a 14-17 defeat.  The nightmare one week earlier was decided far earlier.

"St. Anthony's is a powerhouse," Ferrara prefaces.  "A couple of bad things happened early, and then all of a sudden, the floodgates opened.  We ended up losing 47-0."

Msgr. Farrell and St. Anthony's are familiar foes, who often face off in the post-season as well as the regular season.  That was the case in 2003, when a young sophomore Ferrara lined up across All-American senior Alex Fletcher.

"He was a big guy," Ferrara laughs.  "I was in awe of him.  They also had another D-I senior on that team, Matt Hahn, who went to Penn State.  I was just trying to hang with those guys.  They beat up on us pretty good."

Though the Lions have been up and down thus far in 2005, Ferrara has been a force.  His defensive totals in his junior (2004) season were an impressive 80 tackles and 13 sacks, with 13 pass deflections and five forced fumbles.  Through just four games this fall, Ferrara already has 40 tackles and six sacks on defense.

"I feel more athletic," he says of his year-over-year improvement.  "I worked really hard in the off-season to move my feet quicker - my foot speed.  I'm a little bit smoother when I run.  Another thing is that I've forced myself to hustle more, and always run to the ball.  I'm also a lot stronger, and I can just move guys off the ball."

Ferrara plays both defensive end and defensive tackle, depending on the Lions' defensive playcall.  On offense, he has seen time at tight end, including one score on a two-point conversion.  Which side of the ball he plays in college remains a question mark.

"Stanford - I think they're leaning toward offensive line for me," Ferrara reports.  "Some schools say offensive line, some say defensive line.  Some, like Duke and Rutgers, see me at tight end.

With his strong play in his senior season, the Staten Island man is looking for more offers to come his way.  Among his offer list, he favors Northwestern and Michigan State.  The remainder of his favorites, who have yet to offer, are Michigan, Virginia, Notre Dame, Boston College and Stanford.

With his games played on consecutive Saturdays throughout the fall, this New Yorker knew that his official visits and the bulk of his recruitment would come after his senior season.  The gears will turn quickly for Ferrara when that time comes, so stay tuned for the meat of this story - still to come.

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