"In the past two weeks, if you name it, they're interested," said West Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal Newman coach Dan Dicus. "I mean Miami, Florida, Florida State, Virginia, N.C. State –- ever since about a week after the track season started, a lot of people became very interested.
"[UNC] had an interest in him early before the signing period, but for whatever reason they kind of backed away."
Ford, a 5-foot-9, 170-pounder with ‘4.2–class' speed, impressed college coaches after recently winning the 2A state track championships in the 100m (10.32) and 200m (21.25) events. He has been hitting the combine circuit of late and performed exceptionally well.
"He was fast during football; but down here he was working with a guy and he just kept getting faster and faster," Dicus said. "Hand-held, he's ‘4.3' or under. He's probably a ‘4.2.' He's that fast."
As a slot receiver, Ford caught 22 passes for 550 yards and 10 touchdowns last year and was named MVP of the Outback Bowl All-Star game, in which he had a 10-yard TD run and impressed on kickoff and punt returns. He also earned second-team all-state honors as a defensive back.
"He's a very explosive player," Dicus said. "He's very good when he gets the ball in his hands and in space. Any way that we could get him the ball, whether it was on a screen, a pass, a handoff or catching a punt, we tried to get him a touch. He's elusive, athletic and has soft hands.
"He knows what to do with the ball when he gets it in his hands –- that's for sure."
UNC assistant coach Nick Schiralli is Ford's recruiter for the Tar Heels. Schiralli coached wide receivers at Cardinal Newman in 2001.
Ford's older brother, Davy, played at Florida State.