Born Sept. 16, 1955, in Cleveland, Ward moved with his family at a young age to Dayton, and he became a multi-sport star at Patterson High School where he won nine different varsity letters in football, track and basketball. He was a prep All-American for the Colonels in football and also won the Class AAA state title in the discus.
Hayes was eager to recruit Ward and even began his pursuit of the talented offensive tackle as early as eighth grade. Still, by the time Ward got to campus in the fall of 1974, the Buckeyes were in the midst of a championship run and had a set offensive line in front of such offensive stars as Cornelius Greene and Archie Griffin.
Ward played in every game, but only in mop-up duty as Ohio State rolled to such easy victories that season as 51-10 over Oregon State, 55-7 over Northwestern and 52-7 over No. 13-ranked Wisconsin. But in the week prior to a game at Michigan State, the Buckeyes suffered several injuries at the tackle position and Ward earned his first start. Although OSU lost that game 16-13 in East Lansing, a star was born.
The following season, Ward began a three-year run as the starting left tackle for the Buckeyes. He helped Griffin win his second Heisman Trophy in 1975 and also blocked for the likes of Jeff Logan in '76 and Ron Springs in '77, both 1,000-yard rushers for Ohio State.
During Ward's career, the Buckeyes posted a 39-8-1 record that included two trips to the Rose Bowl and one trip each to the Orange and Sugar bowls. He started 36 consecutive games for OSU and was part of an offense that piled up 1,469 points over four seasons – an average of 30.6 per game. He was also part of a team that won or shared the Big Ten championship every year he was a Buckeye.
Ward was a three-time recipient of first-team All-Big Ten honors and earned All-America honors as both a junior and senior. He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award as a senior, but lost the Outland to Brad Shearer, a defensive tackle who played for Texas, and the Lombardi to defensive end Ross Browner of Notre Dame.
After finishing his Ohio State career, Ward was the No. 1 pick by the New York Jets in the 1978 NFL draft. He immediately became a fixture at left tackle from 1978 to '83, helping the team earn playoff spots three times including two wins in the 1982 playoffs, their first postseason victory since Super Bowl III.
Ward finished his career with stops at New Orleans and Miami before retiring after the 1986 season.
He was inducted in the OSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.
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