Former Maryland kicker Nick Ferrara had one of those striking freshman seasons that commands attention and raises expectations.
The New Yorker scored 80 points in his first season, converting 18 of 25 field goal attempts -- including 7 of 10 from 40 yards and beyond. He also impressed as a fill-in punter. Entering against Clemson for the injured Travis Baltz, Ferrara sent his first college punt 61 yards, pinning the Tigers at their 4-yard-line. Ferrara is big and strong for a kicker -- 6 feet 1, 195 pounds -- and briefly played lacrosse in high school. Former Terps coach Ralph Friedgen was enamored of his potential as a long-distance kicker.
Four years later, Ferrara is preparing this fall to kick for Stony Brook, a Football Championship Subdivision team near his Long Island home. Former Maryland receiver Adrian Coxson also plays for Stony Brook. The switch came after Maryland coach Randy Edsall said last October that he and Ferrara -- who had a lingering hip-groin injury -- had decided it was best for the kicker to move on.
So what happened? Ferrara says it was a number of things. There was the injury and what he says was a rushed attempted return before his senior season. And there was the transition after Friedgen was dismissed at the end of Ferrara's sophomore season. Ferrara, who graduated from Maryland last winter, said he's happy to be starting over in a new program. He said he's kept in touch with his Maryland friends and has never let go of his dream of kicking in the NFL.
The Sun spoke with Ferrara about what went wrong, what went right and his current mindset.
What happened at the end of your Maryland career?
I had an unfortunate [groin-hip] injury going into my senior year. The injury could have been averted -- I had to follow a certain schedule. When I had surgery last February, [the orthopaedic surgeon] made a schedule for me and when I got to camp I was kicking more balls than I should have -- more than I was supposed to.
It was a mutual agreement for me to get my release. Me and Coach [Edsall] still have a good relationship. I hope the best for my old teammates.
You were injured your sophomore year. Were the injuries connected?
Yes, my injury started then. It was all the same thing.
So now you're back home – or close to it?
I committed to Stony Brook, where Adrian Coxson is. I graduated this past winter. It's only 20 minutes from my house. I just need to be in the right program, which I am right now. I'm going to be kicking and punting [and kicking off] -- I'm going to do all three.
What was the transition like from one head coach (Friedgen) to another (Edsall)?
It's sad because I was recruited with Friedgen, came in with Friedgen. Stuff happens. I keep in touch with most guys -- [Alex] Wujciak, [Andrew] Gonnella, [A.J.] Francis. It's a lot different program now.
Are kickers a different breed?
Yes and no. It depends what kicker. There are some kickers and people say, 'That guy's wack.'
What were your best Maryland football moments?
There was James Madison my freshman year (game-winning field goal in overtime). And Miami (go-ahead field goal late in game in 2011). Against Clemson punting (punts of 61 and 53 yards in 2009) when C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford were returning.
Were you on the sideline last season when Terps kicker Brad Craddock missed a late field goal attempt in the loss to N.C. State?
I went home for the weekend. People were like, 'Nick, what the hell? Was that you?' Every kicker misses. It's just unfortunate for him. He's a great kid. He's still adjusting.