Rush Propst, who became one of the nation’s most famous high school football coaches after his appearance on the MTV series “Two-A-Days,” knows a celebrity when he sees one.
Propst says that Colquitt County’s Xzavier Ward, who is favoring UGA and reigning BCS champion Alabama, has “the chance to be the best offensive lineman I’ve ever coached.” That’s mighty praise from Propst, who has coached big-time programs in Alabama and Georgia for nearly 30 years. And he is giving out the props to a kid who still under the national recruiting radar.
Then again, that kid is a mountain of a man, standing 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds. Ward is blessed with tremendous athleticism for his size, and has exceptionally quick feet from all his years of playing basketball. He also was gifted naturally with a long arm span to push away pass rushers on the edge.
“Xzavier is a kid with NFL potential because he has all the raw tools,” Propst said. “He has only been with us (the football program) for one full year. What he has accomplished in that short amount of time is amazing. The sky is the limit for Xzavier.”
“I really do think he’s one of the top 6-7 or among the top 10 offensive lineman in the country. I’ve seen a lot of guys on that Top 150 stuff, ESPN and all the Rivals and Scout lists. Xzavier Ward has as much potential as any player in the country on the edge, I promise you. He might even end up being the best (in the country).”
Propst (now at Colquitt) gained his notoriety as coach at Alabama’s Hoover High from 1999-2007, competing for several mythical national championships and sending a steady flow of elite prospects to the college ranks, including Buffalo Bills wide receiver Chad Jackson (played at Florida) and former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson.
“Have you ever met Xzavier?” Propst asks a reporter. “Because if you do, you’ll remember it. When you first meet him and shake his hand, he will pass the ‘eye test’ as good as any player in the country. You go to yourself ‘Wow.’ By the time he gets to college, he’ll be 6-7 and 290 — and be a three- or four-year starter for somebody. Then he’ll end up being around 6-7 and 330 by the end of college, with opportunities to play in the NFL. He’s just that good.”
Perhaps the most redeeming quality about Ward is his humbleness. When asked about his new-found fame as a college prospect, Ward paused for a few seconds and said, “I don’t know what to say. I really don’t. I’m still in a daze about all of this.” Propst said he is one of the most quiet leaders he has ever been around, with Ward choosing to let his actions on the field speak for himself.
Nearly two years ago, Ward was a tall and lanky sophomore (6-4, 205) who was simply hoping to earn a small-college basketball scholarship. Propst lured him to football, and the rest is history. Ward didn’t even play basketball as a junior. He suffered a left knee sprain during the football playoffs, and decided to skip basketball to focus on football and his recovery. “Basketball is just for fun now,” Ward said.
Ward has offers from Alabama, UGA, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Louisville, N.C. State, and Purdue, among others. We asked Ward about recruiting:
Do you have any favorites? “I like Georgia and Alabama. I’m not really sure after that. Right now, I’m focusing more on getting better in football (than recruiting).”
Is there any school not recruiting you, that you wished would? “No. No, sir. I can’t complain about anything. I’ve got some great schools that like me.”
He has already made unofficial visits to UGA and Alabama, and is considering checking out Georgia Tech this weekend. “I really want to see what Georgia Tech is all about. I want to see the campus, and see if I like it. I’ve heard some good things about Georgia Tech, so I’m trying to get there sometime soon.”
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