ED. NOTE: I want to tell you a story. Well, multiple stories. I sorta hope to write a handful of stories over the course of the summer and the fall. Without a doubt, the biggest fault, I think, of my writing style is that I am too formulaic. This can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes into play when it is the middle of a season and I'm frantically trying to write about a team or get a particular post out for the week. The good thing is that I don't have to think about what I am going to write, but have the subject matter at hand and just consistently write. It makes life easy for me. The downside is that it is predictable and there is very little creativity in my writing. Creative writing is what makes so many things in life wonderful. It inspires you, it makes you think about things that you haven't thought about before. In addition to doing the things that I normally do, the formulaic things, I want to stretch my legs a bit and just write. It probably won't be as good as what I normally do, but most of the time when people try things for the first time, they are not as good as they will be when they have practice. Let's party.
I want to tell you a story about Eric Ward.
Eric Ward was part of the 2009 recruiting class. It was Leach's last year with it being his last class. As an aside, I do think that Leach got his groove back in this class. There were and are a lot of good usable players in that 2009 class, some solid contributors, while I think that Ward is the best of the bunch. Going back and looking is sometimes a depressing process because so many players just don't pan out, for various reasons.
But this is a story about a player sticking with it and panning out, if you will.
When Ward was making his college decision it was between Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Ward was regarded as a 4-star player and he chose the good guys.
We really didn't hear from Ward for the first two years. He redshirted and was essentially non-existent for the most of his redshirt freshman year. It wasn't until Ward was a sophomore that things took off, and he did take off as a sophomore, junior, and hopefully as a senior.
You don't need me to tell you how much of an impact Ward has had on the field. That's the easy part.
I always try to mention this when I write about Ward that you have to be really careful about writing off a kid after a redshirt year. Or the first year after a redshirt where they just aren't very productive. Ward's redshirt year was nothing great, but he exploded on the scene his sophomore year. Sometimes it may take a player until he's a junior, but don't give up hope on a player because they can be better.
Young people will sometimes amaze you with their ability to be better from year to year and be a completely different human being between a summer. I think that's why I have such a hard time about deciding that a player can or cannot play after one year or two years. It takes time for some of these players to develop.
Back to Ward. I don't know Ward's situation, but I'm sure it isn't easy. There have been stories about Ward and his son and Ward adjusting to life in general. He is graduating in 3 1/2 years. That is always so unbelievable to me. To play a game that demands so much time and to then graduate in such a short period of time. I remember when he, Seth Doege and Terrance Bullitt when to the Big 12 media days and Ward wasn't very serious at all. It was actually quite funny, to see his personal side.
Ward is now getting his masters, and he hardly played during the spring. He's earned the right to sit this one out and I am glad that Kingsbury recognized that. Maybe he got to spend a spring focusing on class, graduation and his son.
I remember reading this article earlier in the spring about Ward and his decision not to declare for the NFL Draft and I remember something striking me as funny. Ward was asked about his new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, and it was his answer that struck me as strange:
"I think he’ll be good for Tech."
That's an odd answer. A good answer. An honest answer.
An answer that seems like he is such an adult even though Ward can't be more than 22 or so. It is almost as if Ward knows what is best for the program. Like a parent looking after a child. If anyone knows about what will be good for Texas Tech and this program, it just might be Ward. He has seen it all.