Patrick Ward, the 6-foot-7, 290-pound three-star offensive tackle from Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill., says he has 16 scholarship offers but denies a leader and or even a top five. Some of his offers are from Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Illinois, Arizona, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, Virginia, Duke, Boston College, Stanford and Missouri.
"I haven't narrowed it down yet," Ward said. "I'm gonna do that soon though because I plan on committing before the season starts. I don't want to have to worry about it during the year. I'll have my top five sometime in June and will decide in August. I won't take any official visits in the fall (except to the school he chooses). Once I'm done, I'm done."
Ward, who excels in the classroom, plans on majoring in engineering. "I'm really looking for the best of both worlds - academically and athletically," he said. "I want a school that will have the best opportunities in both.
"I also want a college where I can compete and possibly win a national championship," he admitted. "I plan on taking a bunch of visits this summer to a whole lot of schools."
Although he's unsure about which camps he'll be attending, he did attend spring games at both Wisconsin and Northwestern. He says the Badgers are recruiting him the hardest.
"Wisconsin was great," he said. "I had a great time. I think there was like 30,000 people at the spring game and it just seems like a great place to play. If that many people show up in spring, I can imagine what it would be like during the season."
While Northwestern couldn't quite compete with the 30,000 in attendance at Wisconsin, he says he enjoyed his experience just the same. "I liked the players that I got to meet at Northwestern," he said. "I also got to meet some of the guys they just signed and other recruits and we just all got along really well. I felt very comfortable there."
As a youngster Ward followed Illinois because his dad (Brian Ward) played offensive tackle for the Illini. "He isn't pushing them," Ward admitted. "He just wants me to find out as much as I can about each school. He's not telling me to go to Illinois or anything and he'll be happy for me either way."
Champaign is only about two hours from Ward's house, but his says that distance won't be a factor in his decision.
"Illinois had a really good season last year and they are still a young team," he said. "I like the coaches a lot and they've got a good future ahead of them."
The other schools that Ward has already visited are Michigan State, Iowa and Norte Dame, but the Irish haven't offered yet. "I love the prestige at Notre Dame," he said. "They have great tradition and academically they are up there too. They said they really want me to come up to one of their camps this summer and I think they'll offer.
"I went to watch a Michigan State practice and was really impressed," he said. "I like how physical they are. They showed a lot of toughness at practice and played hard. The coaches also seem pretty nice too. I got to know the offensive line coach (Dan Roushar) pretty well," he said. "I like how he's really calm off the field, but on the field he's intense and will get in your face.
"I also went to a practice at Iowa and that's a nice place too," he said. "I like the coaches a lot and how hard they all seem to work. Plus, they like to run the ball and are looking for some big lineman."
Ward, ranked as the No. 22 offensive tackle in the country by Scout.com, also says he's intrigued by the Pac-10 offers he's received from Stanford and Arizona and says he hopes to head out west for a visit as well.
"I like Pac-10 football," he said. "It's always really competitive and the Rose Bowl is such a great place for a bowl game. It's very prestigious."
He's also very impressed with Stanford's academic reputation. "They have some of the best academics in the country," he said. "They are known for being a great school and the athletics are really good too. The football team is on the rise."
Providence Catholic finished the season with a 7-5 record.
Ward says he can bench press 320 pounds and squat 560. He claims to run a 5.3 forty and shows off his athleticism with a 28 inch vertical leap.
"I pass block well and play against great competition," he said. "I'm also a dominant run blocker. I'm physical and a good straight ahead blocker and like taking people on one-on-one."
Ward says that he still isn't where he wants to be and hopes to improve on everything before playing at the next level. "It's a matter of improving on everything" he said. "I run and lift a lot and am trying to improve on cutting off blocks of linebackers. I just want to do all the little things well."
Ward reports a 4.8 core GPA (on a 4.0 scale with advanced placement classes) and a 35 ACT.