If we keep recruiting like this we are going to need taller quarterbacks. Welcome to Team 135 Mr. Ward.
Hello From The Future: Denzel Ward
According to WolverineNation's Chantel Jennings($), Michigan has picked up their second commitment of the 2014 class in IL OL Denzel Ward, a 6'9" tackle who started playing organized football this year. Informative update coming either tonight or tomorrow, depending on how this game goes.
Semi-informative update ahoy:
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As noted above, Ward didn't start playing organized football until this season, so there's very little in the way of scouting on him. Rivals and ESPN have yet to release full rankings for the 2014 class, and Ward isn't listed yet by Scout or 247; again, that doesn't mean much a handful of games into his football career. All but Scout (6'8") list Ward at 6'9", with his listed weight ranging from 285-295 pounds, so he's a rather gargantuan human being.
The only quotes we have at this juncture about Ward's football ability are from his head coach, via Jennings ($):
"He's dominant," Hales Franciscan coach Randall Townsel said. "The game is very fast when you start playing football. The first time you take the varsity field, the game is moving fast -- and it still is for him -- but for him to go in, understand his role and be as dominant as he has been is pretty incredible."
Ward was a constant surprise to Townsel. After his first practice, Ward stayed after to run a mile by himself. As practices progressed, so did he. At his first game, he drove a player 20 yards down field into a fence because he was a little too excited and wasn't sure when he was allowed to stop, when his quarterback assuredly would be safe.
For a first-time player, regardless of size, to garner serious BCS attention is a testament to Ward's potential, and it's apparent that he's picking the game up in a hurry. Given that he'd been a serious AAU basketball player—a teammate of top-ranked 2013 recruit Jabari Parker, in fact—it's safe to say that he possesses the athleticism necessary to develop into a viable tackle prospect.
Ward's only other offer was from Purdue at the time of his commitment, but Rivals also lists interest from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, USC, and Wisconsin. According to 247, Ward camped at Purdue, Ohio State, and Wisconsin over the summer, earning his Boilermaker offer during his camp appearance.
FAKE 40 TIME
Ward doesn't have a highlight tape available yet. When he does, it will make an appearance in the next recruiting roundup.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Given the complete dearth of scouting and film available on Ward, I'm only comfortable putting forth that he will likely develop into a left tackle prospect; given his size, this isn't exactly going out on a limb.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ward joins linebacker Michael Ferns among Michigan's 2014 commits; Michigan's coaches have made it clear that they'd like to take at least four—and preferably five or six—offensive linemen in each recruiting class, so expect Ward to be joined by at least one more tackle prospect and a couple other linemen.
Ran quickly by his twitter account and he posted a picture of himself shirtless with the words something like "going to workout" - amazingly the guy has little to no fat on him unlike LTT who you can see flab all over his frame (no offense, I'm sure that will change when he gets to college and matures) I assume its the basketball since it's not a game for flabby folk but I was amazed at that weight how it looks like a normal person. His frame could support 330+ easy and even then it is doubtful he would look "Offensive liney" if you know what I mean.
Of course the key will be (channelling Marinelli) "pad level" - no problem with taking a flier on a prospect who could be a bust or massive ceiling when the rest of your recruits look solid on the OL. Even the 4 stars can burst and be flameouts so why not give it a whirl on potential every so often.
On the day that Michigan honors Willis Ward, we get Denzel Ward. Karma, baby.
If Hoke has any sense of history, he'll make sure than Denzel wears No. 61.