This summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on the Oklahoma Sooners' roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.
No. 87 D.J. Ward, defensive end, 6-foot-2, 256 pounds, redshirt freshman
Impact thus far: Ward hasn’t had an impact at all after a redshirt season in 2013.
Impact in 2014: Ward is one of several talented youngsters looking to make an impact along the defensive line. It’s been over two years since Ward played in a football game after he was forced to miss his senior year in high school due to transfer/eligibility issues, so it could take him a while to get back into the rhythm once he gets the chance to play in a game. If he makes a major impact it would be a surprise, but he's not incapable of forcing himself into the lineup.
Long-term upside: Ward was a highly regarded recruit with high upside, but his long-term potential remains to be seen.
Evaluation grade for Ward: C. It’s too early to grade as Ward hasn’t really had the opportunity to show what he can do.
Development grade for Ward: A. A redshirt season was the right move for Ward, who now has four seasons to fulfill his upside in a Sooners uniform. It would have been unlikely for him to make an impact last fall and would have been silly to waste his redshirt season for minimal on-field production.