Ward Building Strong Bond with USF's Mathies

Chicago (Ill.) Simeon offensive lineman Denzel Ward remains committed to the Purdue Boilermakers, but will take his official visits, including one to South Florida this weekend.

While mammoth offensive lineman Denzel Ward remains committed to Darrell Hazell and Purdue, the 6-foot-8, 310-pound athletic left tackle prospect has kept an open mind and has set up his official visits to check out what other schools have to offer.

Some of those schools took a trip over to Simeon on Monday afternoon to check in with the talented offensive lineman.

"Purdue's head coach (Darrell Hazell) and offensive line (Jim Bridge) came in at 8:00 AM," Ward said. "Oklahoma and USF came in at the same time around 1:00. Coach Mathies (defensive line) was the one for USF."

One school that's been steadily climbing up the Windy City offensive lineman's list has been South Florida. The Bulls might of not been recruiting Ward the longest, but coach Eric Mathies has made a significant impact on Ward. The two have built a strong bond, reminding Ward of a family type figure.

"It's been an instant click," Ward said. "He's a Chicago guy. I had my in-home visit tonight with them. It was my first time meeting him, but it was like being with an uncle."

With most mothers playing a significant role in the recruitment of their siblings, Ward's mother had the chance to ask all the questions she wanted to when coach Mathies arrived in the evening for an-home visit.

"My mother liked him and was very comfortable with him as well," Ward said. "We were talking my official visit, me planning to graduate early, and how Tampa is a great place for me to start my broadcasting career. He really was just telling us about media market for my potential as a broadcaster, and the comfort I'll have with family down there."

If Ward makes the move to the Sunshine State to spend his four years as a Bull, the staff wants him ready to go from the start of camp.

"They want me to be ready to play as a freshman," Ward said. "My boy Mike White really wants me personally to have his back. They are in my top schools for sure. I like that Tampa is like a second home to me. Coach Taggart is young, but has a lot of energy and he's very smart. He has a great connection with my favorite NFL head coach, Jim Harbaugh."

While naming a top three of South Florida, Syracuse and Purdue earlier this week, Ward has a day in mind when he wants to make his decision final to the public.

"Everybody is even wise until at least I take my USF visit this weekend," Ward said. "I have a visit on Jan. 31 for Syracuse, which is the weekend before Signing Day. I plan on making my decision on Signing Day."

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