Cooper safety changes commitment to Tech
Having already given a verbal commitment to play football for the University of Oklahoma, Cooper High School free safety Will Ford had a surprise in store for coaches, recruiters and the media on Thursday.
The senior-to-be will instead attend Texas Tech in 2009.
Rated as a three-star recruiting prospect, Ford was also being pursued by Baylor, Texas Christian, Southern Methodist, Texas A&M, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas.
"I've liked Texas Tech ever since I was little," Ford said. "The first college football game I ever went to was at Texas Tech and I've wanted to go there the whole time."
While Ford's decision caught much of Abilene's football community off guard, it came has no surprise to Cooper coach Mike Spradlin. Ford and Spradlin had been discussing the teenager's choice of schools.
As far as Spradlin is concerned, Ford's late change of heart isn't open to criticism.
"This is the one selfish decision that I tell kids they need to make," Spradlin said. "We always ask players to be 'team guys' and do things for everyone else. But where a kid chooses to go play college football is a personal thing that he must decide.
"I'm in full support of his decision and I think this is where he wants to be."
Ford got his first good look at the Texas Tech campus during the Region I-5A track meet last spring and gradually became sold on the idea of being a Red Raider.
A combination of old acquaintances and geography, however, proved to be the most powerful tug.
"When I went to (Oklahoma) I fell in love with their facilities," Ford said. "But I just feel more comfortable in Lubbock than I would in Oklahoma, because I've got a lot of friends going there."
Ford's decision has been accepted on the homefront, though not everyone in the household was rooting for the Red Raiders to win his services.
Ford's father, Will Sr., believed his son would fare better at a smaller university.
"I don't have anything against OU or Tech -- both are great universities," said Will Sr., who learned Thursday afternoon that his son's decision had been made official. "Baylor and TCU were my first choices because they're a little smaller. But at Tech, he has a lot of friends, he's familiar with Lubbock and it's closer to home."
Ford is a three-year starter at Cooper who collected 65 tackles and two interceptions as a junior, despite missing the final three games of the year with a hamstring injury.
Known for his exceptional quickness, Ford has covered the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds when healthy.
"This wasn't an overnight thing," Spradlin said. "We talked about it for about two or three weeks and I let him know that if this was (his decision), it needed to be the final one.
"He didn't need to be making another decision down the road and he understands the ramifications of something like that. So I don't think there is any question he's done."
Evan Ren, Abilene Reporter News