Alums Influenced Ward

Ryan Ward felt comfortable following in the footsteps two former Providence Catholic players took to success at Iowa.

Like most long snappers, Dan Olszta cruised through his Iowa career without much fanfare. The former walk-on did his job well, graduated, married wrestling legend Dan Gable's daughter and bled Hawkeye Black and Gold.

The former Providence Catholic (New Lenox, IL) High star showed his allegiance to Iowa with a current standout at his alma mater.

"I think Ryan (Ward) was influenced by the success Dan and Eric (Steinbach) had at Iowa," Providence Catholic Coach Mark Coglianese said. "Dan still hangs out around Providence quite a bit and he shared his experience at Iowa with Ryan."

Ward, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound, three-star offensive lineman according to, verbally committed to the Hawkeyes last week, his coach said. The player as yet to speak with the media about his pledge.

"He's relatively quiet and he doesn't want to make a big scene," Coglianese said. "He doesn't look for personal attention. I'm sure he will eventually to talk to some of the media people, but I don't know if he's contacted all the (college) coaches (who recruited him)."

Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson tweeted that the program received a commitment last Thursday. Shortly after that, Hawkeye verbal Maurice Fleming tweeted that it was Ward.

"I think word kind of got out earlier than he had wanted," Coglianese said. "He wanted to personally call all the coaches that recruited him to let them know of his decision. Things leaked out here or there."

Coglianese didn't hear from Ward until Friday night, a full day after Johnson and Fleming's tweets.

"I was starting to get calls before I knew and Ryan apologized to me that I didn't know," Coglianese said. "He wanted to do it the right way and let the right people know first.

"He's a great kid and from a football family. The family has gone through this before with Patrick (Ward, a lineman at Northwestern). Not that it makes it any easier. I know it was tough on Ryan to tell these other coaches."

Some prognostications called for Ryan to join his brother with the Wildcats. He also named Boston College and Michigan State among his finalists. Their father played at Illinois and their grandfather at Dartmouth.

"I'm just speculating because I really haven't had a chance to sit down with Ryan to hear the main reasons," Coglianese said. "Maybe part of it was he wants to start fresh. He's followed his brother Patrick through high school. Maybe he wants to go out on his own a little bit.

"Also I think part of it was the classes offered at Iowa. I think the major that Ryan wants maybe wasn't offered at Northwestern or Iowa had a better program. I don't know if it was kinesiology or physiology, something along that line."

As one would expect, Coglianese thinks the Hawkeyes landed a great prospect in his star lineman.

"He's a kid with a lot of potential," the coach said. "He's already a great offensive lineman, but he has a frame where he can put on 20 or 30 more pounds, easily. He's very athletic. He's a tough kid. He's got a little mean streak in him.

"And he's got a great work ethic. He's never missed a workout at Providence. He's a kid that always came in the morning at 6 o'clock. He's one of the first ones there. And he's a great leader. I think he'll be a great leader for us this year and then a great leader for Iowa as well."

Coglianese also feels like Ward will be well prepared for Big Ten football when he leaves Providence.

"The schedule that we play in the Catholic League Blue Division, which is arguably the best conference in the state and one of the best in the country, so he's going up against quality competition week in and week out," the coach said. "I haven't seen his highlight tape. I'm sure it's good, but we're playing tough competition so he's going to have his hands full every week. It's not that he's going to go out and dominate people week in and week out. He wants to get better and improve on the things he did last year."

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