Inked: Four-Star Cornerback Denzel Ward, from Macedonia, Ohio, is Officially a Buckeye

By Jeremy Birmingham on February 4, 2015 at 7:09 am
Denzel Ward is officially a Buckeye

The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their Buckeye careers today as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent. Signing Day is here.

Eleven Warriors would like to officially welcome Denzel Ward to the Ohio State football program.

The Ward File

  • Class 2015
  • Position CB
  • Size 5-11/166
  • School Nordonia (Macedonia, OH)
  • Composite ★★★★
  • Rank 26 (CB)

Much like fellow Buckeye commit Dre'Mont Jones, it was February following his junior season when Ward received his first offer after exploding onto the scene by running a blazing-fast 4.31 40-yard dash at the Best of the Midwest combine in Indianapolis.

A week later, in a story on 11W we listed Ward, as well as a few other future Buckeyes, as Ohio's "players to watch" in 2015. Guys that were under-the-radar for one reason or another. recruiting analyst Bill Greene chimed in on what made Ward such an intriguing prospect.

"He is very raw technique wise, but he has legit speed," Greene said of the Nordonia junior. "Great catch-up speed at CB, (which is) where I see him playing in college, but (he could be) a nice slot WR too. I think he's a high-BCS kid, possibly Ohio State and he will end up a 4-star kid I'm guessing."

Greene was right on both counts, but it was anything but a simple road to Ohio State for Ward, the country's 26th-ranked cornerback. The biggest roadblock to college stardom for Ward, according to the 5-foot-11 defensive back, was himself. Ohio State, recognizing that his athletic skill warranted heavy consideration, laid out a very direct and specific plan to becoming a Buckeye during a late March visit to Columbus.

"The number one priority is getting my grades up," he said. "They also want me to attend camp this summer. The grades are something I am going to put my full effort into and it's not just something I want to do, I need to do it."

The Buckeyes plan in place, Ward turned his focus to taking care of his business on and off the field. He was unheralded, but confident. He believed that Ohio State was in his future.

"I feel you have to go to camps that a lot of scouts and coaches are going to be at, and I wasn't able to do that last summer," Ward said when asked why his offers came so late. "You have help make a name for yourself. This summer I'm going to keep going to speed training and working on my technique." 

In mid-June, as the Buckeyes hosted many of the state's top players for a one-day camp, Ward put that speed and technique to work before the Ohio State coaches. His game had grown, and the Buckeyes saw a player that could help their program. They offered, he committed, period. There was no delay for Denzel Ward. 

"I was excited when they offered me," Ward told 11W. "I committed immediately because I knew growing up that's where I always want to go. Talking to the coaches just made my decision that much easier."

After committing, Ward returned to Ohio State in late July for Friday Night Lights, getting a chance to see how the other half — those still fighting for an offer — lives.

"It was a cool experience," Ward said. "I was just in a lot their shoes, working to receive a scholarship offer from the top school in the country. I didn't work out (at the camp), I just shadowed Coach (Kerry) Coombs with some other commits and listened to what he was teaching everyone. What stood out to me was the intensity and enthusiasm of the campers and the coaches. It lasted through the whole camp."

Ward and Nordonia had a memorable season, fighting their way through an undefeated regular season and getting to the Division Two state championship game before losing to Cincinnati La Salle High School. 

Just a year ago, no one outside of Macedonia had much of an idea who Denzel Ward was. Today, he's an Ohio State Buckeye.

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