Playing for a high school powerhouse that is constantly in contention for state championships has a number of advantages from extra exposure to experience in pressure situations. But it also comes with its difficulties, including finding playing time and touches when there are a number of other high-profile prospects.
For Aca'Cedric Ware at back-to-back Texas state champion Cedar Hill, that meant sitting behind eventual collegian running backs Jared Rayford and Larry Hill before getting his opportunity to shine. As the feature back his senior year, he rushed 291 times for 2,440 yards (8.4 avg) with 34 touchdowns in 2014.
Two years later, Ware is again playing the waiting game as the sophomore is third on USC’s running backs depth chart behind senior Justin Davis and sophomore Ronald Jones II, who set the school freshman rushing record last year.
But Ware isn’t complaining about his role. His father, Aca’Cedric Ware Sr., always stressed being patient and the younger Ware’s time at Cedar Hill gives him experience to build from.
“It's not that tough,” Ware said of being behind Davis and Jones. “My father preached patience, so I'm still being patient, still waiting on my turn, waiting until I get my chance. I'm going to shine with my opportunity.”
Ware doesn’t know exactly what his role will be this season, but he envisions himself being used in “certain packages depending on what the situation of the game is.” Ask Ware and he’ll tell you that he could excel in any package.
Under new running backs coach Tommie Robinson, all three of USC’s top rushers are striving to become more well rounded.
“He preaches the same thing to all of us. Like he says, when he coaches one, he coaches all of us, so he just preaches being more detailed and being more fundamentally sound, being technique sound. All of the above.”
How important are the fine points of the position? Enough so, that Robinson consistently reinforces it with a made-up word.
“He says you've got to be 'detaileded.’ That's not a word, but he loves being detailed,” Ware said. “He's a structured coach. He knows what he wants and he preaches that the little things will make everything perfect or the little things will screw everything up. We see that in practice because if we take the wrong steps, if we're an inch over too far to the left, it can screw up a whole play.
“Coach TRob is a different coach. He's more of an old school coach. He's a great coach. He's taken us a long way.”
Ware and Jones are both looking forward to USC’s season opener against Alabama. Not only is it an opportunity to showcase their abilities against the defending national champions, it’s also a homecoming for the Texas natives.
“We talk about it almost every day,” Ware said. “I can't wait to go back to Texas to play in the Cowboys' Stadium. We've both played there, so it's going to be great for us to go back home and play in front of our friends and family. It's going to be a great experience.”
Ware said both running backs have received a lot of questions about playing in AT&T Stadium. He said the stadium is the loudest he’s been in, so he expects it to be rocking when the Trojans and Crimson Tide kick off.
“On the field, you can't hear anything, especially if it's a big crowd. So I think it's going to be a great experience for those guys. I know they're looking forward to it. It's a beautiful stadium once you step foot inside. It's just a whole different vibe. Once you're in there, you want to perform well. That's just what the stadium makes you want to do. It's just gorgeous.”
Ware Sr. has had to heed his own advice to his soon. He recently relayed that it’s been an entire year since seeing Aca’Cedric play in person. That’s even extra motivation for the Trojans’ sophomore.
“I miss playing in front of my family. I'm looking forward to it. I know they are. It's going to be a great opener and I plan on trying to put on a show for them.”
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