Hello From The Future: Denzel Ward

Submitted by Ace on October 21st, 2012 at 5:32 PM

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:

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
NR OT NR OT NR OT NR OT

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.

OFFERS

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.

STATS

None, obviously.

FAKE 40 TIME

None listed.

VIDEO

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.

Comments

iawolve

October 22nd, 2012 at 10:43 AM ^

A mile! At 6'9" and who knows how many pounds. That just says something about his athletic ability. I guess my only question would be his height in the event he gets any taller in HS. I know there is some issues with knee bend etc when you get too tall and you are trying to stop a speed rusher on the edge. Ogden was 6'9" and pretty damn good, but he was also very athletic. 

ChopBlock

October 20th, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

Is it just me, or are we recruiting the state of Illinois really well?

Not that it's surprising since Tim Beckman doesn't have any night game jerseys to turn the tide with but still...

Michigasling

October 20th, 2012 at 8:28 PM ^

or does he look a lot like Chris Wormley in that picture?  They should enjoying staring at each other across the line in practice. 

And they're both so handsome.  (Yes, I understand they can play some too.)

Welcome, Denzel! 

~Token Female Blogette

notYOURmom

October 20th, 2012 at 10:54 PM ^

....I am getting this right, this kid has played maybe six football games in his whole life? What did he do in these games that go him a whoop and a holler from Michigan?

Farnn

October 21st, 2012 at 12:12 AM ^

Probably showed amazing athleticism, coupled with being 6'9" and already almost 300 lb while still looking lean.  I'm sure he's raw but so is LTT.  These coaches seem to know how to coach linemen and don't mind if they come in without great technique.  The coaches can practically have any OL they want in the country if you look at the last two classes, so the fact that they offered him this early must mean they really see something they like.

PurpleStuff

October 21st, 2012 at 3:11 AM ^

Omameh was a late bloomer in high school and well below the recruiting radar.  Taylor Lewan didn't play offensive line (and wasn't being recruited by anyone) until transferring for his senior year of high school. 

Frame, athletic ability, attitude, and intellect are way more important when scouting offensive linemen than how good they looked beating up tiny guys in high school.

End-Around

October 21st, 2012 at 6:02 PM ^

That story about not knowing when to stop blocking reminds me quite a bit of a story about Michael Oher (current O-lineman for the Baltimore Ravens/former Ole Miss Rebel/Blindside guy)...Reminds me of this play specifically:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/magazine/24football.html?pagewanted=all

"The more he went on, the angrier Michael became, and yet no one noticed. Freeze ordered up plays that called for Michael to block a linebacker or to pull and sweep around the right end and leave the defensive end across from him alone. The first quarter and a half of the scrimmage was uneventful — until Freeze called a different sort of play.

Leigh Anne rose from her seat to beat the crowd to the concession stand and so had her back to the action when the people in the stands around her began to laugh.

“Where’s he taking him?” she heard someone say.

“He’s not letting go of that kid!” shouted someone else.

She turned around in time to see 19 football players running down one side of the field after the Briarcrest running back with the ball. On the other side of the field Briarcrest’s No. 74, Big Mike, was racing at full speed in the opposite direction, with a defensive end in his arms.

From his place on the sideline, Sean watched in amazement. Freeze had called a running play, around the right end, away from Michael’s side. Michael’s job was simply to take the defender who had been jabbering at him and wall him off. Just keep him away from the ball carrier. Instead, he had fired off the line of scrimmage and gotten fit — which is to say, gotten his hands inside the defender’s shoulder pads — and then lifted the Munford player off the ground. It was a perfectly legal block, with unusual consequences. He drove the Munford player straight down the middle of the field for 15 yards, then took a hard left, toward the Munford sidelines. “The Munford kid’s feet were hitting the ground every four steps, like a cartoon character,” Sean says. As the kid strained to get his feet back on the ground, Michael ran him the next 25 or so yards to the Munford bench. When he got there, he didn’t stop but piled right through it, knocking over the bench, several more Munford players and scattering the team. He didn’t skip a beat. Encircling the football field was a cinder track. He blocked the kid across the track and then across the grass on the other side of the cinder track. And kept going — right to the chain link fence on the far side of the grass."

Jeff09

October 21st, 2012 at 6:11 PM ^

At first when I was reading this, I was thinking, why would the coaches take such a raw, untested prospect who has played maybe 6 games of football his entire life?  Seems premature, and the lack of data on the kid is worrying.

But then I realized, what's more likely, especially given the type of offers that have gone out so far for 2014 (mostly national/elite level prospects), is that the coaches saw some really remarkable play while scouting him.  They clearly can recruit O Line so to take someone so unproven this early, I'm guessing they've seen some truly dominant play from him so far.  I'm going to go out on a (not so large) limb and say over the next year as his profile grows, he is going to be recognized as one of the top tackle prospects for 2014.

BIGELLY71

October 21st, 2012 at 6:13 PM ^

Great pick up, on this great weekend. Him and coach funk will be spending a lot of time together. Can't wait to see some video on him. And the best part is he has time to develop because of the GREAT recruiting classes before him

Sione's Flow

October 21st, 2012 at 7:48 PM ^

I think the fact that he's only played in a few games may be a blessing in disguise for Coach Funk, Mr. Ward hasn't had years of playing time to develop bad habits.  So he may be raw, but  he may also be extremely coachable and guick to learn.  Plus at 6'9" and room to grow, this kid is going to be a behemoth.

IPFW_Wolverines

October 21st, 2012 at 8:54 PM ^

I want to see a lot of this.

"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."