Gryphon kicker/punter Gabe Ferraro has tried to put last season out of his mind.
It’s not that it was a bad season, quite the opposite as he set a U Sports record for the number of field goals made during a season.
However, he doesn’t want to get into a situation where he’s trying to better that mark.
“Honestly, it’s not even about topping it,” he says. “I don’t really look at the numbers, I just try to get better personally. I think anyone would say they have things to work on to get better at, even Tom Brady would say he’s got things to get better at. I just look at myself and I just look at things I can tweak to get better. I just look to get better myself.”
Getting better means focusing on the little things.
“Small things, small things that can kind of help me get to the next level as well,” Ferraro says. “Things like punting, a little bit more strength, a little bit more consistency. That’s all.”
But the 2017 season was pretty special for Ferraro. He was named the most valuable player on the Gryphons after he kicked 33 field goals during the season, beating the previous best of 26 set by his brother Daniel, now his kicking coach with the Gryphons, and Johnny Mark of Calgary.
The season also included a single-season team record of 125 points and a team-record seven field goals in a single game, something he did in the final game of the regular season against the Carleton Ravens at Ottawa to establish the national mark. His season also included three games in which he was good on five field goal attempts.
“It’s pretty cool, I have to say,” Ferraro says. “It was a pretty surreal season to have and it was pretty awesome, but I’m glad to be back to have one more year.”
He takes a pair of all-time team records into Ottawa for a Week 3 match with the Ottawa Gee-Gees. He’s kicked a total of 75 field goals in four seasons with the Gryphons and has scored a total of 330 points.
He was also drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in the spring and attended their training camp, which gave him two training camps this year.
“It was a little different this year having been to the CFL training camp,” he says. “It was a different off-season. I was getting ready for a training camp and then after that, I had two months to get ready for another training camp here. It was a little bit sped up this off-season, but it was the same kind of thing – get stronger, get bigger and get more consistent. I’ve been working with my brother a lot on technique and I’ve been out here a lot. We both went down to see a coach in Tennessee and that helped a lot as well. We just got better.”
That coach was James Wilhoit, who was a kicker with the University of Tennessee just over a decade ago.
“He works with a bunch of CFL guys and a couple of NCAA guys. He was awesome and it was great to go see him,” Ferraro says. “He taught me things mostly with kickoffs. He helped me a lot with kickoffs and just getting a lot more explosion into my kicks, a lot more height and power.”
Getting to go to Calgary’s training camp also got Ferraro ready for this season.
“I couldn’t have asked to go to a better place. I got super lucky to end up with the Stampeders,” he says. “Both guys there, (kicker) Rene (Paredes) and (punter, former Gryphon) Rob Maver, helped a lot. They were really friendly and they brought me in as one of their own and I learned a whole lot from the two of them and I’m just looking to bring that back to these guys now.”
Ferraro’s in a bit of a different situation with the Gryphons this season as he’s not the only kicker on the Gryphon roster. In his first season with the Gryphons, Ferraro was the No. 2 kicker behind his brother Daniel, but Gabe has been the only kicker on the roster since. One year the Gryphons listed a rugby player as a backup kicker, but he never played. The Gryphons also had a couple of kicking recruits let them down, one who never showed up and the other who left before the season started.
“It’s just tough because you don’t really get a break,” Gabe says of being the team’s lone kicker. “In practice you’re the only one doing reps whether it’s the scout team, the starting team or the third stringers, it doesn’t matter. You’re the only one getting reps so you just have to stay turned on the whole time.”
This season the Gryphons have two other kickers on the roster, Eric Stranz and Jared Fernandez-Brown.
“This year I’ve more or less got put into a mentor role having two younger guys and that’s kind of really helped me to step back and see it from a different point of view and see other guys and help them through it. It helps me helping them,” Gabe says. “I’m just kind of in a mentor role this year. I’m just trying to be myself when it comes to being on the field, but off the field and even during practice I’m just trying to help the younger guys be ready and carry on the legacy we’ve had of having great kickers here at Guelph. We’re on three or four in a row now so I just want to carry that on once I’m done.”