Position: Offensive Lineman
Location: Santa Ana, California- Mater Dei HS
Weight: 300 pounds
Recruiting: Had offers from throughout the West, with Cal and UCLA the first two to offer and the two he chose from. Was scheduled to visit Cal before cancelling the visit at the last minute, and committed to the Bruins over the weekend.
What to Like: Ward is probably the best pure run blocking lineman in the Golden State in the class of 2009, and the state's top lineman overall. He's been a part of a bigtime program, and a high octane offense, and was charged as a sophomore and junior of protecting USC freshman Matt Barkley's blindside as the left tackle for the Monarchs. Ward excels in run blocking, getting out quickly from his stance and using his hands well. He's one of the most fundamentally sound linemen in the country in this class, and he's got the versatility where he can play either tackle or guard in college, on the left side. He's a strong pass blocker too, but this year, with Mater Dei balancing their offense more, with more emphasis on the running game than Barkely's last two years, he's standing out more in the running game. Plus, Ward has been playing against the best competition since he was a sophomore in the Trinity League, the top league in California and in the Pac-5, with Mater Dei's always-tough schedule. And like the commitment of Malcolm Jones, Ward gives UCLA the first scholarship player from Mater Dei in nearly 20 years. Mater Dei has been a school that UCLA has tried to recruit, but has always been unsuccessful, so for Rick Neuheisel and Bob Palcic, this in itself is a victory.
What may be of concern: The biggest concern with Ward is his overall strength. He'll need to get stronger so that he can withstand the defenders he'll be responsible to block at the next level. His upper body still has plenty of room to add more muscle and weight, which will only help him in college. He's also had some minor, nagging injuries the past two years that have sidelined him for some games, so durability is a small concern.
Overall Analysis: Ward gives UCLA another upgrade on the offensive line, one of Neuheisel and Palcic's focuses when they came to Westwood, and his knowledge of the position and sound technique, coupled with UCLA's usage of young lineman, could make Ward an early contributor to the Bruins' offensive line, either as a tackle or as a guard, which bolster's his presence.