As a prospect that grew up in the Volunteer State rooting for Tennessee, Ward is used to pulling for the football team that pridefully sports the tint of the American daisy.
Now, the Class of 2014 quarterback from Decatur County (Tenn.) High School is getting the chance to see the Big Orange up close as a recruited prospect.
The opportunity for a rising junior to get a look at how a Southeastern Conference football team practices can be exciting. Ward walked away impressed.
"It's a well-ran practice, very organized," he told InsideTennessee. "Offensively, they looked really up tempo."
Ward got a complete tour of the campus, including a look at the expansion to the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center, which throughly impressed the Parsons, Tenn., native.
"The facilities that are coming are just going to be crazy great," Ward said. "I'm excited to see what all is in store for that when it's done."
It was his first trip to Knoxville as a recruit, and he made the drive east at Tennessee's request.
With the Vols grinding it out on Haslam Field, Ward and his fellow visitors didn't get a chance to meet with any of the coaches one-on-one or interact with the players. He did get to speak briefly with recruiting coordinator Darin Hinshaw before the staff returned inside for their afternoon meetings.
It was Ward's second time speaking with Hinshaw, who was UT's quarterbacks coach his first two seasons under head coach Derek Dooley. The two met at a camp last year.
The right-handed signal-caller drew on his experience from visits and his childhood alliances for an early look at his favorites.
"Definitely Tennessee. Home state. I grew up always wanting to be a Volunteer. I mean they're definitely on top of the list right now. Alabama maybe," he said.
Ward, who is currently 6-foot-2, 188 pounds, plans to continue seeing schools this spring with a trip to Vanderbilt coming this weekend and Mississippi State after that. His next trip to Knoxville likely won't come until a camp this summer.
Coach Joel Goff's Decatur County squad reached the third round of the TSSAA Class 2A state playoffs before falling to Adamsville 21-7.
Ward already has one state championship ring. He was a member of the Big Blue's baseball team that coasted through the 2011 BlueCross Spring Fling undefeated en route to the school's second straight Class A crown. As a freshman, he primarily contributed in the postseason as a courtesy and pinch runner.