When we last checked in with 2014 Chicago based offensive tackle Denzel Ward, Ward had just been offered by the Ohio State Buckeyes, despite having been committed to the rival Michigan Wolverines for almost two months prior. Flash forward two more months, and how things have changed.
After connecting with coaches at Florida and doing some soul searching, Denzel Ward and Michigan parted ways this past week, when the 6-8, 295 pound tackle officially reopened his recruiting. It's widely expected that Ward will visit Gainesville to not only check out the University of Florida, but also take in Tuesday, February 12th's big men's basketball game between the Gators and defending national champions, Kentucky.
Since only Denzel knows what the future holds for him, we went straight to the source to try and get some more info on the reasoning behind the decommitment (which there were mixed reports of whether Michigan "dropped" him, as it were, or if Ward initiated it) and where he goes from here.
We know you decommitted from Michigan recently, a place you'd been verbally committed to since October. You'd also received offers from some pretty high profile other schools like Florida and Ohio State in the last few months. How much did those play a role in your decision to reopen your process?
Mostly they just showed me I didn't take my time the first go around and that there's always possibly a better fit out there. I'm just looking for the best for me.
In your opinion, does Michigan's no visit policy for recruits limit your flexibility to get a feel for what all's out there? And are you still considering Michigan?
No, it didn't limit me. The coaches gave my family permission for me to take other visits, but I just wanted to not be committed when I wasn't 110% sure. Yes, Michigan is still in my top schools for now, but I just want to make sure that the place I end up in 2014 is the best one to help me achieve my full potential.
What are your plans for the next few months and beyond? Do you foresee yourself committing again to another school, or are you planning on waiting until a specific time to make your intentions known this time?
During the next few months, I will be improving my technique and building my strength up so I can be ready to compete when I get to college. I don't plan on committing until after my senior season, possibly at an All-American game or just on National Signing Day 2014 itself.
What do you look to get out of your visit to Florida and do you have any other visits scheduled right now?
I'm looking to see the Florida fans go crazy at the game. Hopefully they give me some Chomps when I'm there. I have a feel for the staff already, which is definitely positive. I also plan on visiting some schools in the midwest in the summer when I go back for summer break.
And finally, how do you deal with the overall pressure of the recruiting process as well as being such a highly touted recruit?
It is a real learning process, but I've learned that college football is a business above all else and I can't make decisions based on emotions anymore. I'm just looking at all the positives and the negatives at every school, and will weigh them all after my senior season is over. I've also learned not to get caught up in a fan base.
Thanks once again to Denzel for his time.