Ohio State has certainly turned around the perception that they weren't showing enough love to the in-state players, as the Buckeyes accepted the commitment from Nordonia cornerback Denzel Ward after Thursday's camp.
Ward, 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, dazzled onlookers with his speed, change of direction and coverage ability. He accepted the Ohio State offer instantly, similar to Tuesday's commitment of Dublin Scioto linebacker Nick Conner.
WHAT IS THERE TO LIKE? Ward is a late bloomer, and a player that caught Scout.com's eye last winter at Raw Talent Sports. His speed is ultra impressive, but more important is Ward's hip rotation and change of direction. He is similar in size to Damon Webb, and while not as polished in man coverage, Ward is faster. The Ohio State coaching staff had him stand back-to-back with both Eli Apple and Gareon Conley at camp, and Ward matched their wingspan, although noticeably shorter. Those long arms will benefit Ward in coverage. He could also factor in the return game, should Ohio State decide to use him in that role. Ward is a player that should be able to redshirt the first year, get adjusted to the level of competition, and then be a solid contributor.
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS? The production has not always been what we would like to see on a game-by-game basis, but the athleticism has covered for Ward. He is 5-foot-11, and that could also be a question mark. Although known as a hitter in high school, Ward has a smaller frame and will need to get bigger and stronger to hold up in the run game. I don't see any of these concerns being all that tough to overcome, and I have him as a solid take for Ohio State.
WHAT ARE THE INTANGIBLES? Ward has only started to blossom, so there is still a high ceiling he can reach. Much like Conner, this is a player that has dreamed of playing for Ohio State since he was a small child, and Ward will appreciate this opportunity. I don't think Ward saw himself as a top recruit six months ago, so he is a prospect that has not slacked off at all and is continuing to get better. His coach raves about his work ethic, and Ward is a big part of the turnaround at Nordonia that has them looking at a deep playoff run this season. Every college coach wants players that come from winning programs, and expect success from themselves and their teammates.
WHO DOES WARD COMPARE TO? Ward has the potential to be another Doran Grant type of player at Ohio State, if he will match Grant's work ethic. Neither player are blessed with great height, so Ward will need to overcome that deficiency by emulating Grant in the weight room, film room and on the practice field.