Ford Still Thinking

It looks as if the recruiting battle for Phil Ford may be entering its final stages somewhat sooner than expected.

On Tuesday, Ford – a highly-touted offensive line prospect in the Class of 2011 from Kansas City (Kan.) Bishop Miege High School – announced he would visit the University of Kansas with his mother, Michelle Walker, on Thursday.

The news served to quickly fan the flames of excitement within Jayhawk Nation. With a slew of linemen committing to Head Coach Turner Gill's program in the past week, many hoped Ford's visit signaled his own imminent pledge.

Scout.com caught up with mother and son Thursday night, and while the titanic lineman didn't leave Lawrence a Jayhawk, both enjoyed the trip.

"I liked it," Phil Ford said. "We went up to the dorms and saw the coaches and players again. It was nice seeing them again and being on campus."

Though this wasn't the duo's first visit together, the previous trip – for the program's Junior Day back in February – was conducted in a group setting with a number of prospects and their parents along for the ride.

This time around, Walker appreciated the chance to get some one-on-one time with coaches and academic advisers, discussing their plans for her son's future – should he indeed pick the Jayhawks.

"It was just a lot different this time," she said.  "With Junior Day there are so many student-athletes down there you don't really have a lot of time for them to take out and answer questions. Whereas today they really answered a lot of questions that I had."

Though he received a formal scholarship offer from Kansas two weeks ago, after a strong showing at the program's O-Line/D-Line camp, Ford has long maintained a spot on the coaching staff's radar. However, the Jayhawks were not the first BCS program to an extend an offer, as he has had one from the University of Minnesota on the books for several weeks.

Originally, Ford hoped to make a decision following his senior football season at Miege, where he hopes to play a key role in leading the Stags to back-to-back Kansas Class 4A State Championships. This week, that time frame was shortened considerably, and it now looks as if he will have a college destination selected by the end of the month – on a very specific day.

"His birthday is July 26," Walker explained. "So he'd like to try and make a decision on that day."

Prior to Thursday's visit, Ford said he was leaning toward the Golden Gophers, and that preference has not changed. He has yet to visit Minnesota, but has enjoyed his interactions with the coaching staff to date, is intrigued by the idea of playing in the Big 10 and cold weather climates.

Perhaps most importantly, however, is his close friendship with current teammate – and Minnesota commit – quarterback Max Shortell.

"We've been like brothers the past three, basically four years now," Ford said, of Shortell. "I've been blocking for him and we've had each other's back."

Before a decision can be made, the two will make a trip to the Minnesota campus later this month, in addition to a return trip to Kansas for the opportunity to meet with Head Coach Turner Gill.

Ford is currently rated as a three-star prospect by Scout.com, and one of the top prospects in both the Kansas City region and the state of Kansas.

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