Fordes drive differing roads to college ball

BRIAN FORDE, THE WSU tackling legend from the Jim Walden era, chuckles when asked to compare his own recruiting experiences with what his son Maxx -- a standout senior-to-be at Woodinville High -- is seeing right now. In fact, to say their two paths to college ball are dissimilar is a towering understatement.

For starters, Brian played his high school ball in Canada while Maxx knocks heads in the state of Washington's high-profile KingCo 4A league.

And get this: Brian didn't start hearing from college coaches until after letters of intent were signed, and didn't have his one and only offer in hand until a month before practices began.

By contrast, Maxx can't sign his LOI for another six months, but he's been hearing from colleges for the last year and secured five scholarship offers, including one from WSU, before his junior year was done. He's rated the No. 89 defensive end prospect in the nation (though he could shape up to be a college offensive tackle).

Brian, a Montreal native, used to workout in the off-season with the Alouettes of the CFL and the scouting director there put him in touch SMU and Ole Miss.

SMU didn't go anywhere but Forde was able to produce one highlight tape that he sent to Ole Miss. Mind you, in 1984 video cameras and home VCRs were more rarity than mainstream. The Rebels liked what they saw, but didn't want to offer Forde without seeing him live and asked if he'd be interested in attending a nearby junior college for a year.

Another Alouettes assistant, Wally Buono, got the highlight tape back from Ole Miss and sent it to a former teammate of his, Jim Burrow, who was the defensive backs coach at Washington State.

It was now late June. But WSU head coach Jim Walden loved Forde's tape. The NCAA scholie limit was 95 back then.

A prescient pick up by Jim Walden
Brian Forde was a 6-3, 241-pound beast at middle linebacker at Washington State from 1984-87. He holds the WSU record for most tackles in a season (157 in 1986) and ranks third on WSU's career tackles list (436).

As a sophomore, he racked up 28 tackles in a single game (vs. Cal) -- a WSU record which still stands. Indeed, he holds three of the top four WSU marks for most tackles in a game, logging 25 at Michigan in '87 and 24 against Stanford in '86.

Serving as a team captain his final two years at WSU, Forde was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and played five years in the NFL and three more seasons in the CFL.

"He offered me a full scholarship sight unseen, and I showed up on campus about a month later," said Forde. "...Jim Walden called me up and said, 'Brian, we're going to make you our 95th scholarship. See you in August.'"

THE YOUNGER FORDE wasn't allowed by his parents to play football until he was in the seventh grade. But he got a bit of head start with his dad.

"We did a lot of, around the house, hand-slapping, spin moves, rip moves, all that stuff," laughed Forde. "He's a pretty quick study. I'm just tickled with the things he's been able to do and the success he's had. I'm enjoying the whole process with him."

That process has seen the elder Forde step back, to this stage, from any direct involvement. Two of his former Cougar teammates -- WSU head man Paul Wulff and assistant Steve Broussard -- are friends but he has not talked with them once about his son's recruitment.

"I haven't spoken to coaches from anywhere, and I really believe it's better this way," said Forde. "When a decision is made on where he's going to go, if I haven't already spoken to someone I'll talk to someone, get any questions answered.

"If (Maxx) asks for advice, I give him advice. Sometimes he doesn't ask and I give it anyway and I think that's the role of a parent, but I'm certainly not (micromanaging). Within a year he's going to be on his own and I want to see him start stepping up and becoming more of a young man and making decisions for himself."

SOME THINK MAXX will be an offensive tackle in college, though he's projected by Scout to be a defensive end. His athleticism for his size is evident and not just on the gridiron, as evidenced by the night -- on the basketball court -- when he shut down swift guard (and class of 2011 recruit) Kasen Williams.

Wherever the younger Forde lines up, his recruitment is light years beyond what his father experienced. He holds offers from Washington State, Wyoming, Army, Idaho and Air Force, and is seeing heavy interest from others in the Pac-10 and beyond.

"Going through this process with my son has been great, looking at an actual recruiting process. I didn't get letters or's a testament to what kind of an athlete he is and the kind of work he puts into it," said Forde.

  • NCAA scholarship limits were at 95 from 1977-91; at 92 in 1992; and 88 in 1993. The limit has been at 85 since 1994.

  • You can read more about Maxx Forde's athleticism in USAToday HERE.

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