Purdue a favorite for top tackle Ward

Three-star tackle Denzel Ward set his four favorites, and that list included Purdue. Ward, one of Purdue's top prospects, will visit West Lafayette this weekend. Boiler Sports Report updates his recruitment.

Denzel Ward took a step toward making a college decision, cutting his long list of offers to four on Tuesday. Those cuts brought good news for Purdue.

The three-star tackle named Purdue, Florida, Ohio State and Oklahoma as his four favorite schools. The Boilermakers find themselves in good standing for one of their top targets. Even better news for Purdue is that Ward will be visiting West Lafayette this weekend.

Ward, a Chicago native who now plays at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, has built a strong relationship with new Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell.

"Coach Hazell is there with a new mindset to win and seem to be a player type of coach," said Ward.

The 6-foot-9, 313-pound tackle sees the potential to play immediately at Purdue, something which none of his other three favorites can offer. With that, Ward has done research to the new offense which the Boilermakers will run.

"[Offensive coordinator] John Shoop has a brilliant system set up to get the ball down the field and he showcases his tackles well," Ward said.

Ward one be one of the biggest additions the new coaching staff would land at Purdue, and could be considered a marquee pickup for the 2013 class. When it comes to Purdue, Ward goes beyond this current staff. His cousin is Purdue running back Robert Gregory, once a star quarterback at Chicago Simeon Academy.

Gregory has helped Ward to feel like a part of the program already, which is key in his recruitment.

"I have relationships on the team, such as my older cousin, Robert Gregory, who is like a big brother and mentor through this whole process," he said. "Danny Etling and I have become great friends, too."

Ward is unsure what the future of his recruitment holds, and admits this weekend's visit may make or break Purdue's standing moving forward. As for that decision?

"I don't know, really," he said. "It's not so timeline-based; it can be from anytime this week to Signing Day. It's just whenever I feel most comfortable with pulling the trigger. I've been making pros and cons list, so whatever has the best upside for my future."

For now, the Purdue coaching staff has something to smile about. However, they'll have to impress their top tackle this weekend.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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