Leading up to signing day, SoonerNation will take a closer look at the Class of 2013 prospects currently committed to Oklahoma. The in-depth analysis pieces will take a look at the ranking, estimated year of impact and potential role of each future Sooner.
Vitals: Defensive end D.J. Ward (Moore, Okla./Southmoore) | 6-foot-3, 225 pounds
Committed: April 14, 2013
ESPN.com grade: 83, four-star
ESPN.com rankings: No. 12 defensive end, No. 20 in Midlands region, No. 1 in Oklahoma
Picked OU over: Auburn, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and others
State of the position: The Sooners don’t have an immediate need for impact defensive ends. Yet, if a newcomer emerges as a legit pass rushing threat, he will earn playing time because the Sooners badly need pass rushers who can consistently get to the quarterback.
Pros: “It can seem like he is coasting a bit, but he gets around the football and makes plays. Ward has the tools with further development and a little more consistency to be a very good college defender. Could contribute early on as a pass rusher.” -- ESPN scouting report
Cons: “He has good first-step quickness, but doesn't always seem to show the same sense of urgency in his get-off.” -- ESPN scouting report
Similar to/potential role: Frank Alexander. It would be easy to see Ward develop into a quality Big 12 defensive end with the ability to get to the quarterback. He’ll need some time but he has terrific upside to become a every down defensive end.
Expected impact: 2013. As an early enrollee, Ward will get the chance to show he can be a pass rushing threat as a true freshman during spring football. Don’t be surprised if he sees spot duty as a pass rusher in passing situations as OU searches for guys who can get to the quarterback. Then Ward could become a main contributor as a sophomore in 2014 as he improves his body and technique.