"Duke" Loves the Dawgs

Na Derris "Duke" Ward is one of the top tight ends around the nation in the class of '06 and his offer list is rapidly approaching 20 overall. Even with all of those options on his plate, Na Derris has a strong idea at this juncture of where he'd like to play college ball and that just happens to be in the Classic City of Athens.

"I've got about 17 or 18 offers. In the SEC alone I have Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Florida and LSU. I also have Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Utah, San Diego State and Fresno State." It's real chaotic. I'm just trying to get back into my school work. I'm loving the recruiting and all the opportunities though," Na Derris Ward said.

One team has placed themselves firmly on top at this time.

"Definitely Georgia is my leader right now. They've done a wonderful job recruiting me. Their program is great from A to Z. I've been there before and it's a wonderful atmosphere. The coaches seem so real and I'm starting to get to know them as people as well."

"Coach Johnson at Georgia is one of the guys I talk to the most. He's outstanding. I spoke to him earlier today and he asked if I was ready to say the words and end it now, but I told him I had to wait to talk some things out with my family. I want to go meet all of the coaches in person and meet some of the former and current players and make sure I'm making the right decision."

What sparked the mutual interest between Ward and the Dawgs?

"I spoke with my coach one day and I told him the school I liked the most was Georgia. We contacted them and they called me back the next day. They offered a few days after they saw my film. I also have a lot of family in the Atlanta area around Buckhead and Decatur. I could be closer to them."

With Mark Richt's team seemingly so far out in front, might a commitment be coming in the near future?

"Most likely I want to wait until after my senior season so nothing is left to chance with me as far as schools go. They'll know exactly the type of player that they're going to get with me. I'm coming down to Athens this summer and I'm trying to get my mom and my sister to come with me. They're going to be huge in my decision because I'm like a father figure to my little sister. She knows everything about me and has a part in everything I do."

Although the Bulldogs are clearly the favorites at this juncture, Ward admits he's still looking around at schools like Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Kansas State, Cal, Oregon State, Oregon and LSU.

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