#24 DB Johnny Ward
Sophomore, 6'0",165 lbs.
Stats in 2013: Appeared in all 12 games, starting 3. Had 32 tackles, one interception, defensed five passes, forced a fumble and recovered one (in different games).
Spot on 2013 Depth Chart: Hey, we have a pre-season depth chart now! Ward is listed as one of the two starting cornerbacks. On the 2013 chart we've been using up to now, He was the #2 corner, behind the now-departed Kenneth Durden.
How did he come to USF: One of Skip Holtz's few good ideas was recruiting the state of Georgia more aggressively. Ward is one of the products of that effort, from Colquitt County High School in the southwestern part of the state. Also had offers from Central Florida, Middle Tennessee, and South Alabama. His high school coach says he would have had more, but committed to USF early and stayed committed.
Recruiting Rankings: Rated 3 stars by 247 sports, and two from Rivals and ESPN. Which brings up a recruiting theory I have. I think players who choose a school early and stick with it get lower ratings than players who remain undecided longer. Recruiting services have subscriptions to sell, and "The Top 20 QBs Are All Already Taken" wouldn't be a compelling read. So I think undecideds get a little boost in the stars department sometimes. Anyone remember Adrian McPherson?
Projected Playing Time in 2014: This is a case where being #1 on the depth chart might not mean much. USF's secondary is very inexperienced, and USF signed a whopping six defensive backs this spring. Ward will go into the season as the starter, but Coach Taggart has more alternatives this season, and isn't shy about using them.
Still, Ward was part of a young secondary that was thrown into the fire, and got a lot better as last season went on. He will certainly have a role with the defense this year.
And it'd be great to redshirt some DBs this season, to spread the large number of underclassman DBs over more years.
Fun Fact: Ward was the 5th verbal commitment of the 2013 recruiting class, but the earliest one who actually came to USF. The others were Asiantii Woulard (UCLA), JoJo Kemp (Kentucky), Cameron Fraser (Louisville), and Darius Whitty (didn't qualify academically). Just something to keep in mind if you like to follow recruiting news this many days before Signing Day.