"Every time I visited each of those places, they've made an impact on me," Ward said of his final four. "With Northwestern, my brother is there and I know the program well. Iowa and Boston College have a great tradition with offensive lineman. Michigan State, I like the coaches and there's a lot to like there. Those are my four."
During the summer, Ward made visits to Iowa and Michigan State. Now, he is done with visits and is planning to make his decision fairly soon.
"It's just a matter of getting everything down on paper, talking with my dad, and just thinking," Ward said. "It's not something I want to rush—that's for sure. I just want to get everything done."
For Ward, the most important thing which he hopes to find in the perfect program is the right group of people—both players and coaches.
"I think it's just all the people—the coaches and the guys you're going to be playing with," he said. "I'm looking for a place where I can fit in with all the people.
Ward has at least one "right" person at Northwestern. His brother, Patrick, is the Wildcats's starting tackle. However, big brother has reached out to Ryan as a mentor in the recruiting process, and is not swaying him toward Northwestern.
"He really doesn't push me to go to Northwestern, he just wants me to make my own decision," Ryan said of his brother Patrick.
Northwestern, like other schools, has expressed interest in moving Ward elsewhere on the offensive line. The Wildcats have already locked up three offensive linemen in their 2012 class, but are still making a push at Ward.
"We've talked about their commitments this year but they still think I'd be able to play—I wouldn't be behind everyone," Ward said. It all depends on where I end up.
"It's not like I'm for sure going to be a tackle either—different places see me at different positions too. They could clear up spots."
Ward is in the home stretch of his recruitment. He is now working to evaluate his four favorites and make a commitment. Thus far, Ward's decision date is still unclear. However, a commitment is likely coming soon.
"Whenever I can make a decision, I want to make this as soon as possible."