Xzavier Ward almost waited too long the first time around. So when the University of Georgia came back with a scholarship offer on Monday, Colquitt County’s star offensive lineman pounced on it.
Ward. a 6-foot-7, 260-pound offensive tackle, committed to the Bulldogs on Monday. He’s No. 22 for the Class of 2011.
“I feel great about it,” Ward said. “I feel like it’s a great opportunity.”
Ward was originally offered by the Bulldogs as part of their mythical “Dream Team.” But he resisted and elected to play out the recruiting process to the end. It almost cost him.
Georgia, Alabama and Auburn, three of the main teams in on Ward early, all filled up their slots on the offensive line and had to withdraw their offers. But with rising senior Tanner Strickland’s recent decision to give up football coupled with two commitments gaining early enrollement, the Bulldogs had some room open up.
On Sunday morning, Georgia coach Mark Richt offered both Ward and Miami commitment Taylor Gadbois (6-7, 295) of East Paulding. Ward had accepted by lunchtime Monday.
“Well, they called and offered me and I decided to take it this time,” Ward said. “I had an offer from them before but they filled up for a while, like Alabama and Auburn did. When Coach [Mike] Bobo called this time I told him I wanted to be a Dog.”
Gadbois decided to stick with his commitment to Miami. “It was a tough decision to make but I decided to stay with my word,” he said. “They came by my school today and I didn’t want to be rude to Coach Richt because he’s a good man, but I just couldn’t do that to Miami because that was my dream school.”
Ward had plenty of other opportunities, too. He had well over a dozen offers, including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, North Carolina, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Georgia Tech, which also offered, put on a full-court press last week and tried to get him to take an official visit. He took a trip to Mississippi State instead and was given the red-carpet treatment by the Western Division Dogs. But when pressed to go ahead and commit, he again resisted.
“I almost waited too long,” Ward said with a nervous laugh. “But I didn’t want to go too far from home and I liked the idea of playing in-state for the state school. Georgia’s got a lot of great players coming in now with the Dream Team and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Ward is rated a four-star prospect by ESPNU/Scouts Inc. and he gets three stars from both Rivals and Scout. But he’s the top-ranked offensive lineman in the AJC Fab 50 at No. 9. And Colquitt County head coach Rush Propst called him one of the most athletic lineman he’s ever coached.
“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.”
For now, Ward’s just happy to have a destination.
GEORGIA 2011 COMMITMENTS
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog.