Perhaps no player in all of sports is more likely to be carried or booed off the field, court or ice more than a kicker. Hicksville’s Nicholas Ferrara might not have known that when he signed up to kick field goals more than a decade ago, but he’s aware of it now. And if he isn’t, the crowds in Tallahassee, Blacksburg and Miami—80 or 90 thousand people strong—will remind him of the situation for which he’s volunteered. The St. Anthony’s grad, in the mix to be the chief placekicker for the University of Maryland football team this fall, won’t back down from a challenge.
“I’ve been working at this since I was four when I first kicked,” Ferrara said. “Ever since I set sights on it, I always thought I was going to be playing on Saturdays and people said, ‘Ok, Nick.’ Ever since then, I’ve been preparing myself for this moment. I’m going to go all out and do the best that I can.”
Ferrara, a converted soccer player, was arguably the most highly touted kicking recruit in the northeast region for the Class of 2009. It’s no wonder either. During his career at St. Anthony’s, Ferrara connected on 46 of 48 extra points. He connected on three field goals in the Friars’ 37-15 win over Chaminade in the CHSAA semifinals before they bowed to Iona Prep. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder hit from 47 yards out in a game and even converted from 64 in practice.
Given his proficiency, colleges naturally came calling. Ferrara showcased his leg at camps at Tennessee, Rutgers, Penn State and Pittsburgh, among other schools. They were impressed. The Terrapins lured him in, although their recruit was “truthfully surprised” because he had had an off day kicking at College Park. He enrolled in June to begin classes, is slated for kickoffs and is in the mix on field goals as well.
Maryland begins its season on September 5 in Berkeley to face to Cal Bears. Three weeks later, the Terps host Rutgers, who were long in the running for Ferrara’s golden boot. It’s also where former Friar star Scott Vallone went to play college ball last fall. Ferrara will also cross paths with former teammate John-Kevin Dolce, a junior linebacker at Virginia. By working on accuracy and lift, Ferrara hopes to minimize the likelihood of a defensive player’s mitt crossing path with an airborne kick off of his foot. His reputation alone won’t likely get the job.
“Anything can happen in camp,” Ferrara said. “You have to work hard for it. I’m taking every day at a time. I’m not looking at Cal yet; I’m looking at tomorrow’s workout.”
Ferrara also played wide receiver and defensive back for the Friars. He’ll be limited to kicking duties at College Park, including kickoffs and a deeper option at punter. He’ll know how he’s doing based on the crowd noise both home and away. “I’ll definitely be ready. The school I played for had 7,000 fans a game. It doesn’t matter if it’s 90,000 or 7,000; people yelling in the stands is yelling in the stands.”