Patrick Ward, the 6-foot-7, 290-pound three-star offensive tackle from Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill., says he's narrowed down his final list to seven schools…but he's not telling.
"I'm not releasing my final list yet," Ward said. "I've narrowed it down to seven, but I still haven't had a chance to talk to all the coaches yet and I want to do that before I tell everyone.
"I'm also calling the coaches of the schools that didn't make the list too," he said. "I'd like to commit before the season because I just want to concentrate on my senior year."
Ward, Scout.com's No. 28 offensive tackle in the country, says he has around 25 scholarship offers and didn't attend any camps this summer. He did, however, visit three schools: Illinois, Stanford and Boston College, and admits all three stand a good chance of making his final list.
"Boston College is a great area and they have good academics," he said. "I also like how consistent the program has been over the past few years.
"Stanford was a great experience too," Ward said. "Obviously, the academics are great, but the team is getting better. The coach (Jim Harbaugh) is very enthusiastic and seems confident he'll get them back on track. He's really excited about this season and I like that. He seems like a good coach."
With offers from schools nationwide, Ward says that distance won't be a factor. "My parents are really open about me going anywhere," he said. "Just because Illinois is the home team (about two hours away) doesn't mean they have an advantage."
But the Fighting Illini are the team that Ward grew up watching and he admits he expects big things from them this coming season. "They lost a big guy in (running back) Rashard Mendenhall, but Juice (junior quarterback Juice Williams) is probably gonna be a better quarterback this year and the defense looked really good during the spring."
The school that Ward says is recruiting him the hardest is Wisconsin and he visited the Badgers during the spring.
One of his latest offers and a program that he is yet to visit is Nebraska. "I've been getting a lot of mail from them recently," he said. "They offered me not too long ago and the new coaches seem like good guys. I think they've got things going well there."
Another recent offer that Ward received was from Notre Dame. "They offered me about two weeks ago," he said. "That's really exciting. They said that when they finished their evaluations I was the best offensive lineman they hadn't offered yet, so they did.
"They have such a great program," he said of the Irish. "They have it all. The academics are great and they have some of the best tradition in the country."
Some of the other programs that have offered Ward are Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Arizona, Northern Illinois, Virginia, Duke, Missouri and Iowa, among others.
Although Ward says he has his finalists narrowed down, he says he still hasn't made a final decision. "There's still a lot to think about," he said. "Right now I've got seven schools that I really like and could see myself playing at, but it's not like I've already made up my mind. I've still got some time.
"I'm looking for a school where I can major in engineering and get a good degree," he said. "I'd love to compete for a championship too. I guess I'm just looking for the best mix of athletics and academics."
Ward is a stellar student and reports a 4.8 core GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and a 35 ACT.