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Leo Ferrine: Cornerback adjusts to cut in playing time

Greg Arbogast | Thursday, November 15, 2007

Syracuse quarterback Perry Paterson dropped back, surveyed the field and fired a pass to the left flat. Leo Ferrine was ready. The red-shirt freshman cornerback cut in front of the wide receiver, and Ferrine returned the pass for a 16-yard touchdown.

“Everything happened so fast, you don’t even realize you’re doing it,” Ferrine said. “All I remember is my teammates jumping on me and then going to the sideline and being congratulated by my position coach and defensive coordinator. That was my red-shirt freshman year, so I was like, ‘If I can do this now, I can do it for a lot of years to come.'”

Unfortunately for Ferrine, that play against Syracuse in 2005 was less a sign of things to come than a temporary high in a Notre Dame career that has seen numerous ups and downs.

Even though he was forced to switch high schools before his senior year, causing many universities to lose recruiting contact with him, Ferrine was tracked by Notre Dame throughout high school.

After not playing in 2004, his first year in South Bend, Ferrine looked ready to assume a bigger role starting his second year. In 2005, Ferrine played in all 12 games, started against Purdue and recorded 22 tackles (17 solo) on the season.

“In terms of individual stuff and team stuff, that was the best year,” Ferrine said. “We didn’t come in with a lot of expectations, and we proved a lot of people wrong.”

But Ferrine’s career did not continue on an upward trajectory after the 2005 season. A combination of a nagging hamstring injury and competition from younger players has limited the cornerback to action in only 15 games over the past two seasons.

Although his Notre Dame experience may not have gone as planned on the football field, Ferrine has benefited in other ways during his time in South Bend.

Ferrine said that academics played a large part in his attraction to Notre Dame, and the New Jersey native has appreciated his classes as a Film, Television and Theatre major.

“Academically, [my time here] helped me meet a lot of different people, people I’ve met in the television and film industry,” Ferrine said. “Hopefully, I want to go home to the New York metropolitan area and just get into the film industry there.

“I want to be on television, like Fox Sports and that, but it has to start small at first. It doesn’t matter at first, but [I want to be on television] at the end.”

Working through tough times at Notre Dame, Ferrine said, made him grow up.

“I came in the youngest in my family, so I came in thinking I’d get whatever I want, just keep asking and people will give you what you want,” Ferrine said. “You have to do everything for yourself in college. Live by yourself. Get around by yourself. You got to be a real man to go into the world, and I learned that in college.”