D.J. Ford was one of the latter additions to North Carolina’s 2016 class. He also happens to be one of the signees furthest from Chapel Hill. Regardless, he doesn’t feel like an outsider among his fellow incoming classmates.
“I feel a connection – almost like a bond – already with several of the guys,” Ford said. “I don’t have a problem with anyone. We all get along. I feel like I’ve known them all my life already.”
Ford, a safety from Lineville (Ala.) Central of Clay County, met most of UNC’s incoming class during his official visit in mid-January. Before ending his stay, the coaches offered a scholarship and he immediately accepted.
In April, Ford was back in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels’ spring game. It marked his first opportunity to see the team live in action.
“I think that we have a lot of potential this next season to do what we want to do,” Ford said. “What we want to do is win the conference and pursue the National Championship.”
Ford is hopeful he’ll be a part of that championship push. However, he hasn’t been told one way or the other that he’ll red-shirt this season by Charlton Warren, UNC’s secondary coach.
“He told us straight up, ‘I’m not afraid to play freshmen,’’ Ford said. “I took that as: take care of business, and I’ll see the field.”
Ford felt that in order to take care of business he’d need to skip baseball this spring to focus solely on the weight room.
“I want to be the best that I can be as soon as I step foot on campus,” Ford said.
Additionally, Ford has been following UNC’s workout regimen 100-percent.
“It’s very different,” Ford said. “My workout plan at my high school is more of an overall workout. But, UNC’s workout that they sent me are split up into a “leg day,” “arm day” type thing. I noticed the differences right off the bat.”
If that wasn’t enough, every day Ford does extra running to further his conditioning.
Despite the aforementioned work, Ford has held steady at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. But, he feels the difference.
“I just feel a lot better,” Ford said. “I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.”
Warren hasn’t told Ford exactly how he fits into the secondary (though, Ford assumes he’ll play free safety). However, Warren and Ford have discussed jersey numbers.
“Lucky No. 13,” Ford said. “Honestly, I don’t know too many thirteens, other than OBJ [Odell Beckman], and I just wanted to do something different.”
Ford hasn’t declared a major, but he’s leaning towards something in the business field.
“Anyone in Chapel Hill can tell you how successful the business program is there,” Ford said. “And how prestigious it is and how easy it is to get a job when you get a degree from North Carolina business.”
On June 14, Ford will report to campus. He has cleared UNC admissions and the NCAA Eligibility Center, he says.
“I’m a little anxious and a little nervous, but I’m more excited than anything,” Ford said.
Ford has yet to receive his roommate assignments, but has requested to bunk with Patrice Rene.