Aug. 29, 1999
by Tom Kolbe
Notre Dame outside linebacker Joey Ferrer was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school when he decided to make a commitment that would shape his life forever.
His grandmother, Claudette Williams, always instilled religious values in Ferrer, but it was one day when he was convinced which path he would choose. It was a Sunday morning at Macedonia Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., when Ferrer decided it was his time to make a commitment to the Lord.
“I was grateful for everything I had and the preacher said to give your life today,” Ferrer says. “I was embarrassed about going to the front of the church and giving my life to God. The preacher told me that tomorrow is not promised to you. He said that his father is not ashamed of any man, so why would you be ashamed to be in front of man.”
That was ultimately the deciding factor for Ferrer. He decided to give his life to God and six years later the Casselberry, Fla., native can tell the story with pride.
“That day something within me got me,” says Ferrer. “I went in front of the church and gave my life and was baptized. I really think that was the turning point in my life.”
The changes within him began to develop and he realized how he was able to give to others and help the less fortunate.
“I started to be grateful and began giving to others,” says Ferrer.
While being an extremely strong Christian, Ferrer recognizes the need to help all people, especially children. He will never turn his back on any person who needs a helping hand, while knowing he was once the same young child not sure which path to take.
The person who Ferrer learned the most from and looked up to as a child was his cousin Trevor Pryce. Pryce, three years older than Ferrer, would come to watch Ferrer play youth football. Pryce eventually played at Michigan for a year and then transferred to Clemson, prior to being the 15th selection in the 1997 National Football League draft by the Denver Broncos. Pryce is now a starter on the defensive line with the Denver Broncos.
“When I saw Trevor play against Notre Dame while at Michigan, that really fired me up,” Ferrer says. “That put the fire in my eyes. Now that he is in the NFL, that fire is coming back again. I just want to achieve some of the things and make some of the plays he did.”
Even during the trying times, Ferrer never has wavered in his devotion to religion. Ferrer makes the most out of every opportunity, hoping that others might find the same fulfillment that he did.
“I try to instill God within my sister and my little cousins,” says Ferrer. “I try to let them know how important God is in my life. I believe they look at me as a successful person and they want to be where I am, so I set an example by showing them they cannot do it on their own.”
Motivation is one of the keys Ferrer has used and he remembers the times he was motivated.
“I’ve been motivated by both coach (Lou) Holtz and coach (Bob) Davie,” says Ferrer. “I try to motivate my little sister and my cousins. I have to let them know that when the other person is sleeping, they need to be running or working to get an edge on them. There is so much competition in the world today and you have to do a little more than the average person to be successful.”
Ferrer earned a 3.364 grade-point average during the spring semester and is on pace to graduate in three and a half years with a double major in sociology and computer applications. While excelling as a student-athlete, Ferrer has gained respect throughout the community and from his coaches and teammates.
Assistant coach Jerry Rosburg, who works with the outside linebackers, has noticed the way Ferrer is respected by his teammates.
“I’ve noticed Joey is an extremely engaging young man,” says Rosburg. “He always has a smile on his face and the whole team really seems to be a friend of Joey Ferrer. He has a great personality off the field and I expect him to be extremely successful with his future endeavors.”
Ferrer has become active within the South Bend area, meeting new people and helping young children.
“It’s given me a sense of community,” says Ferrer of his church involvement in South Bend. ” I’m always around Notre Dame and the players, but going to church allows people to look at me for myself.”
Ferrer enjoys playing for a team where a high percentage of the players are extremely religious.
“We have a lot of guys who love and appreciate the Lord,” says Ferrer. “Before games, (assistant) coach (Desmond) Robinson has a fellowship with the players. The first week we had about five guys and looking back on our last game, which was the Gator Bowl, we had about 35 guys there.”
With four new coaches and 21 incoming freshmen, Notre Dame will look significantly different on the field. However, Ferrer knows they will all share one thing in common.
“It’s good to see God just spreading among the new coaches and players,” says Ferrer. “He’s done wonders for me and I hope they find the same wonders for themselves.”
While being a major ingredient to the football team, Ferrer also has found time to maintain good grades and participate in programs with the church and the community. He lives a busy life centered on helping others and he has no complaints about it.
“It’s all about time management,” says Ferrer. “I’ve matured so much throughout college and I know what I have to do to be a successful person.”
Whenever Ferrer decides to help children, he uses one of his favorite quotes.
“The only lasting motivation is self-motivation,” says Ferrer.