We Walk #1: FB Lee Ward [#36]
The Bootleg is
proud to reprise last year's popular "We
Walk" series profiling
Stanford’s high-caliber 2010 walk-ons,
focusing our attention this time on true
freshman fullback Lee Ward (#36), a two-time
all-state linebacker and decorated running back from Missouri who has
already made a formidable impression on the Cardinal coaching staff during
his initial fall camp on the Farm.
It doesn't take long to get
acquainted with Lee Ward’s football personality.
Ward, a hard-nosed
fullback from Parkway Central High School in Missouri, is no fan of gimmicky
passing offenses that have become increasingly popular in major college football
over the past few years. If it were up to him, heads would knock and holes would
open for running backs on most every play.
“Other teams don't
really play 'real football',” Ward said. “They're just going to pass the ball,
pass the ball, that's not football. Football is hitting someone in the mouth
every play and running the ball. And mixing in passing, obviously, but you have
to be able to run the ball.”
The success Stanford enjoyed last year
running that kind of offense was a big reason why he decided to attend Stanford
over offers from most of the Ivy League, Colorado State, Arkansas State, Eastern
Illinois, and a smattering of other walk-on opportunities.
originally committed to the University of Pennsylvania, but the opportunity to
play smash-mouth football and possibly earn a scholarship was too much to pass
“I originally committed to Penn, but then Stanford came back
in and said 'we're not very full on fullbacks and we're not taking one for this
cycle so you could probably earn a scholarship coming out here',” Ward said. “So
I was like, 'That would be a good opportunity', so I switched my
So far, it seems like Ward made the right choice. He's
received plenty of hype as a possible candidate to succeed senior standout Owen Marecic at fullback, with coach Jim Harbaugh recently telling the media
that there is “no question” Ward will see the field sometime in his Stanford
Although Ward denies he pays any attention to those
whispers, he appreciates the opportunity to learn from Marecic, a player Ward
calls “the best college fullback in the nation".
showed me a lot on blocking technique and driving through a person and getting
low and showing me how I can be the best by exploding through
someone on contact,” Ward said.
Marecic has helped Ward adjust to
the competitiveness of a Pac-10 practice.
“It's a lot different
than high school, obviously,” Ward said. “It's a lot more competitive. Every day
you have to come out 100% unlike high school where you could 'cruise' on a few
days. That's the only way you'll get a fair look.”
A 'fair look' is
not something Ward felt he received from colleges during the recruiting process.
Most schools were recruiting him primarily as a linebacker, the position he
focused on during his junior year. But in part because he didn't have
prototypical linebacker size, Ward generated only limited interest at that
“I felt a lot of the big-time schools overlooked
me,” Ward said. “For many of those programs, I was listed only as a
linebacker. I think that's what got me down - just because I'm not as tall
as the 'ideal' linebacker. I'm 6-0 at best, so they kind of overlooked
During his senior year, Ward focused more on running the ball
and enjoyed a fair amount of success punishing opposing defenses with his
physical running style.
“In my junior year in high school I played
running back, but that wasn't my main focus until my senior year when I had
1,500 yards and six touchdowns. I didn't even send out senior tape,” Ward
Nevertheless, the Stanford coaches liked enough of what they
saw to offer Ward a chance to make the Cardinal football team. Former defensive
coordinator and current Director of Player Development Ron Lynn made a
visit to Ward's school his junior year of high school and the two sides stayed
in contact until Ward made a commitment to Stanford in March of
Growing up, Ward didn't envision himself playing his college
ball on the West Coast. Ward's father David is a graduate of Notre Dame, his older sister Justine is a current Notre Dame
undergraduate, and the younger Ward admits he envisioned suiting up in
“That's always where I thought I would be playing,
growing up, but obviously it didn't work out,” Ward said.
it to say, Ward's erstwhile Irish allegiance will be shoved
unceremoniously to the side when Notre Dame and Stanford meet up in
seasons to come.
“I was always pretty much a Notre Dame fan,
just because that's where my dad went. But not anymore!” Ward said.
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