NaDerris Ward visits Oregon, names leader

NaDerris Ward, the #3-rated tight end in the nation for the class of 2006, attended practice with his mother during his official visit to the University of Oregon on Saturday. He committed to the University of Georgia after high school, among offers from several schools, including LSU and Florida, but decided he needed to be closer to home.

"I wanted to get closer to home to be with my grandma," Na Derris Ward said. "She has cancer and is having surgery not too long from now, probably in the next month or so. I'm just looking at schools close to home, but not too close because I don't want to be trapped up in the same environment. Oregon and Arizona are similar distances to home, and are the same caliber of school."

Although Ward has kept quiet about his schools of interest for the past month, he decided to break the silence on his first official visit this weekend at Oregon.

"It's just Oregon and Arizona," said the former four-star prospect. "I'm just taking everything into consideration. Just seeing the offense, the production and how everything is orchestrated (at Oregon), I like it a lot."

When asked whether he had a leader, Ward did not hesitate. "Yes. Most of my family is here in Oregon. This is one of the first universities that I reached out to when I decided to leave the University of Georgia."

He made it clear that neither last year's success, nor the tradition of the University of Oregon putting tight ends in the NFL factored into his initial calls to Oregon. For him, it is a matter of being close to his family at this stage in his life, and only after that does he talk about the other factors in his decision.

"I definitely like the spread offense," he said. "They utilize the tight ends a lot in the offense. They get them in areas of the field to do their thing. It's just an offense that I feel fits closely with what I like to do, and what I want to do."

Ward did not set a date for his decision.

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