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Ray Herring: Video game addict only plays himself on field

Laura Myers | Friday, November 20, 2009

Ray Herring spends much more than 20 hours a week on football-related activities. But don’t call the authorities, because he’s not always playing himself.

“I like to play video games, NCAA,” Herring said. “I try to avoid [playing myself]. I feel like that’s kind of weird. I play other people, friends of mine who are at other colleges.”

When he plays the video game, Herring said, Notre Dame “usually” wins.

In real life, though, the fifth-year safety has been around for both ups and downs.

Herring was recruited out of Melbourne, Fla., and began his career in 2005. He played eight games that year, mostly on special teams. He said his favorite memory of college football was the 2005 game against USC in which the Irish lost at the last second.

“I know we lost, but it was a good game,” he said. “I think I’m the only one left who played in that game. It was an exciting time. Maybe it was because it was my freshman year, but I was amazed.”

In 2006, Herring played all 13 games, again mostly on special teams but starting as strong safety against Stanford when Tom Zbikowski went out with an injury. He recorded 18 tackles that season, which he said was his favorite year.

“It was my first time actually getting a chance to play Division I college football,” Herring said. “I was just having fun. That’s the only way to play, having fun.”

Herring fell to a groin injury four games into the 2007 season and was sidelined for the rest of the year. In his few appearances he made three tackles and two fumble recoveries.

He returned his senior year and was granted a medical redshirt that allowed him to come back for a fifth season as well. Since coming back he has not missed a game, playing all 13 in 2008 and all nine so far this year.

In 2009, he has recorded eight tackles on special teams and one punt return. He also plays backup to fifth-year senior strong safety Kyle McCarthy.

Herring said he doesn’t prefer one position over the other.

“Special teams is fun because that’s where I started off,” he said. “I’ve been doing it my whole career.

“It doesn’t really matter, as long as I get a chance to help the team win.”

Herring was always ready to help Notre Dame win — though he was recruited by teams such as Georgia Tech and Tennessee, he said he always wanted to play for the Irish.

“I was happy when I got this offer,” he said. “It’s Notre Dame. Who doesn’t want to come here? The degree, the people, the atmosphere, the football aspect, being on NBC every Saturday. If you’re away from home, people can still see you play.”

Five years later, Herring said he is glad he came to Notre Dame and had a lot of fun both on and off the field. He will miss his Irish teammates, but hopes to continue playing football.

“This is the part where you’re looking at the next step,” he said. “I’ll try out for the next level on pro day here.”

Maybe next year he will be trying to avoid playing himself in the NFL video game.