The bad news for Oklahoma fans is the opinion of defensive end D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) didn’t change following his junior day visit last weekend.
The good news is OU already was pretty high on his list and that there really wasn’t a chance for much advancement, according to the state's top junior.
It has been a struggle for Ward in trying to get his name out there. Family and transportation issues have kept Ward at home, unable to attend any junior days before his trip to Norman, Okla.
He was invited to OU’s first junior day on Feb. 4 and was invited to both of Texas’ junior days in February but was unable to be at any of them
Ward made sure he was be in Norman on Saturday.
“I wasn’t going to miss another opportunity,” Ward said. “For one reason or another, things have happened, and I haven’t been able to do everything I’ve been hoping to do.”
Ward was a frequent visitor to OU’s campus during 2011, taking several unofficial visits to see the Sooners play.
However, junior day was different. It gave him the chance to learn more about the university and where he might fit in.
“It was a great visit. I know a lot more now than what I did before,” Ward said. “This is a really great program. It’s also a well-structured program. You can see why OU is so successful.”
Ward said his favorite part of the visit was getting a tour of the weight room and seeing all the championships.
Ward, 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds and on the ESPNU Watch List, doesn’t look small to a lot of people. But one of the people he talked to at junior day was significantly bigger than him.
“I was able to talk to Blake Bell for a little bit. I didn't ask any huge questions, but it was something to see how big he really is,” Ward said.
Bell, the backup quarterback for the Sooners, is listed at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds.
Ward is not sure where he will go next because too many things have forced him to change plans in the past. He said he would definitely like to see Texas although he hasn’t been in communication with the Longhorns staff recently.
“There is something about Austin, something about that area where there always feels like there is something going on,” Ward said.
Ward has been a little disappointed about the lack of national attention, but perhaps that came to an end Tuesday. He was offered by Auburn, the second SEC team offer him as Texas A&M offered last year. He has nine offers total.
“Coaches are calling here all the time,” Lawton coach Randy Breeze said. “It’s one big-time program after another. If the coaches could talk to D.J., he would get more offers because he’s such a good kid. He’s so humble, so respectful. He’s a kid of great character.”
Unlike a lot of in-state targets, OU hasn’t played it slow with Ward. The Sooners offered him last spring, and Ward said he has developed a great relationship with OU defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright.
However, because there are still more schools that Ward wants to see, a commitment won’t happen anytime soon. He has no official favorites, but Ward reiterated that OU would be near the top if he did.