Only a year removed from a career-ending leg injury, Jack Farrell won’t be suiting up and lining up at tight end for Duke when it plays Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., Dec. 27.
That doesn’t mean the former Holy Innocents’ standout hasn’t been an integral part of the Blue Devils’ preparation for their first bowl game since 1994, when they lost to Wisconsin 34-20 at the Hall of Fame Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Since a broken leg in a game against Boston College last October ended his playing career, Farrell has served as an unofficial coach — helping out the team’s tight ends during practice.
While he won’t be stepping on the field for Duke, Farrell is still looking forward to the Blue Devils’ first postseason appearance in 18 years.
“I can’t be more excited,” Farrell said. “To be a part of the rebuilding process and go through the tough years and then to come to this point is incredible. Our goal was to play in a bowl game and ultimately, we achieved that goal, so I’m proud of it.”
Farrell entered Duke in fall 2009 after an outstanding high school career at Holy Innocents’, where he earned All-Region 5A honors as a senior in ’08 — catching 13 passes for 258 yards to help lead the Golden Bears to an 8-4 record and the second round of the state Class A playoffs.
After being redshirted as a freshman in ’09, Farrell played all 12 games — including one start — two years ago.
He was becoming more of a key player in the Duke offense during his redshirt sophomore season in ’11, when he broke his right leg in the Blue Devils’ third game of the year against Boston College.
After three surgeries failed to bring his leg back to full strength, Farrell finally decided it was time to prepare for the next phase of his life.
“Unfortunately, my [college] career was cut short after 2½ years,” Farrell said. “But, it’s been a great experience. It’s disappointing that I didn’t get to play all four or five years. But, it’s time to move on and I accept that. I love Duke University and I’m grateful for the opportunity that they have given me.”
Farrell has found a new role for himself at Duke during the ’12 season as what he describes as a “player-coach” — an assignment which he has cherished.
“It has certainly been different, but I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s been interesting, experiencing the other half of it and helping the young guys.”
During his time at Duke, Farrell has stayed in touch with his coach at Holy Innocents’, Ryan Livezey, who has helmed the school’s football program since its inception in 2006.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what Jack has accomplished at Duke,” Livezey said. “His hard work and determination are exactly what I hope that all of our former players gain from being part of our football program.”
After graduating from Duke with a degree in sociology in May, Farrell will take the first step toward his dream of becoming an entrepreneur when he joins New York-based Venture for America — a two-year program for aspiring young business people.
“I want to be an entrepreneur and Venture for America is a great opportunity for me to learn more about what it takes to be an entrepreneur,” Farrell said.