Next In Line

The recruiting process has been good to Illinois offensive lineman Ryan Ward. It got a little better on Monday when he received a big-time gift. Find out what the Iowa target picked up and get the latest on his recruitment in this update.

Ryan Ward has gotten a lot out of the recruiting process. Monday, he received a new truck.

No need to call the NCAA Infractions Committee. This one's on the up and up.

His grandparents left a college trust for the 2012 offensive lineman from Providence Catholic in New Lenox, Ill. With six BCS schools having offered scholarships, Ward won't need that cash. Brian Ward surprised his son with a Ford F-150.

"Things have really gone excellent so far," the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Ward said of recruiting. "I'm really happy with where I'm at right now. It's a real fun time in my life. I get to go on these trips with my dad. You only get to experience this once."

Ward has unofficially visited Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Purdue, Boston College, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. Northwestern, Iowa, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana and Vanderbilt have offered scholarships. Cincinnati and Notre Dame have visited Providence recently.

"I'm hoping to get it to a Top 5, a Top 4, some time this summer," Ward said. "Then I can make things easier and go visit those schools. I'd like to make a decision before my senior season."

Ward attended an Iowa spring workout and could see the Hawkeyes making the cut.

"I was impressed with the practice and the whole campus," Ward said. "It's a real good school from an offensive line standpoint."

Ryan's older brother, Patrick, will be a true junior at Northwestern this fall. He is assisting his younger sibling's recruitiment.

"I go to him a lot with questions," Ryan said. "He's been through this recently and helping me a lot. He doesn't try to push me towards Northwestern. He wants me to take my time thinking through it and make the best decision for me.

"He said to make a decision when I feel comfortable and it felt like home. Even though it's crazy right now, he told me there would be a day when I'd know. I'm going to take his word for it."

Ward said he'd eventually like to play left tackle in college, but he'll begin wherever he's needed. He would like to play early in his career at the next level, but he'd want to earn it.

"The most important thing is the team," he said. "It would be great to play, but I want to play and help my team be successful."

Ryan has plenty of guidance. In addition to Patrick at Northwestern, Brian Ward is an alum of the Illinois football program while his grandfather can say the same about Dartmouth.

Chances are good, he'll ask his advisors for their opinions on Iowa.

"As an offensive lineman, they have a great, great program," Ryan said. "You look at how many guys they put in the NFL and it's amazing. Coach (Kirk) Ferentz does a great job developing the offensive line."


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