Practice Tour: Martin Ward

JONESBORO, Ga. --- Although Mount Zion's football team was subjected to a coaching change during the preseason, the goals of the Bulldog offense will continue to involve utilizing talented tailback Martin Ward.

  • Practice Tour: Martin Ward Photo Gallery

    "Martin's a phenomenal talent in the fact that he can do more things than the average ‘back," said first-year coach Jarrett Laws. "We can move him out of the backfield, we can motion him.

    "Martin's the type of player that sometimes he affects the play even if you don't utilize him. The emphasis is placed so much on him, that other people are able to get themselves involved in the offense."

    Last year, Ward put up impressive rushing stats - 1,379 yards on 149 carries (9.2 yards per carry) – but he also caught 11 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown from out of the backfield. This season, the 5-foot-10 190-pounder will actually line up at wide receiver on certain occasions.

    "I'll be in the backfield, but sharing time with Cedric King at running back," said Ward. "They'll also spread me out [to receiver], trying to get me the ball in different ways.

    "At first, I was a little skeptical, because I thought they were trying to move me out to wide out. But at the end of the day, it's not just me; it's for the team and a way to keep the ball moving down the field. But, it's cool. I like it."

    Regardless of how he gets the ball in his hands, Ward is a threat to score at any moment.

    "Martin is a slasher," said Laws. "He plays well to schemes where they allow him to come down hill. Martin has the ability to go laterally, but Martin has amazing vision. If you stand him back and he has the chance to survey the front landscape, he has an uncanny talent to feel where the holes are."

    According to Laws, Ward is also a very unselfish player.

    "Martin isn't the type of kid that's going to bug you for the ball," said Laws. "I would compare him somewhat to a LeBron James-type in the fact that LeBron doesn't take over the game until the necessary moment to take over. Martin won't ask for the ball until he sees nothing else is moving and then he's like ‘Ok coach, put it on my back.'"

    Defensively, when Mount Zion employs their dime package, Ward will see time in the Bulldogs' secondary.

    Ward might return punts and/or kicks. Laws and his coaching staff have yet to finalize much of their special teams and the benefits of utilizing Ward as a returner. However, they also understand the increased potential of injury if he is used there.

    Off the field, like many standout senior athletes, Ward will be counted on to lead Mount Zion and be a role model for his younger teammates.

    "My job is to keep everybody positive and everybody's head straight," said Ward. "This year, I'll say I'm the leader. I play a big role in keeping everybody calm and composed for the game."

    Last fall, Mount Zion went 5-5 including a first round exit from the GHSA 4A playoffs. Ward expects to improve on that record during his senior season.

    "We got the talent that's going to get us far, but right now, we've got to focus on the little things to get us there," said Ward.

    Mount Zion won't open up their 2007 season until September 1st when they play Fayetteville (Ga.) Fayette County.

    Recruiting Update

    Ward's recruitment has slowed since the NCAA banned coaches from text messaging recruits.

    "It's been pretty mild," said Ward. "I've just been sitting around. I've talked to a few coaches, but that's about it; nothing that big."

    Ward, who was formerly committed to Georgia, is looking at his recruitment with an open mind. However, a trio of schools have caught his attention.

    "Right now, I'm not really trying to choose favorites," said Ward. "Schools that would be on my mind would be Clemson, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Vanderbilt and Purdue have been calling, so I'm listening to what they have to say."

    Ward figures to attend many games this fall both unofficially and officially, but he said he hasn't made any concrete plans.

    Martin Ward Profile

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