NEW LENOX, Ill. - Ryan Ward just isn't the type of kid who looks for the spotlight, yet even he couldn't help but smile and enjoy the moment on Thursday morning at school when he was introduced and presented his game jersey to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Ward, the 6-foot-6, 280-pound four-star offensive tackle is the first player from New Lenox (Ill.) Providence Catholic to be named to the annual all-star game and is very grateful for those that helped him get to this point.
"Being the first football player from Providence to go to this game is a tremendous honor." Ward said. "Honestly I was a bit nervous this morning and I was scrambling for words. I just wanted to thank my parents and my coaches for everything they have done for me."
Ward had a decision to make when it came to selecting a post-season all-star game, but he said the choice to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was an easy one.
"I know there are a few other games but playing in this game is an honor. The Army Bowl is the most prestigious game by far and in my opinion and I'm excited to get a chance to play in the game."
Ward knows that he will be representing more than just himself and his family at the Army Bowl in San Antonio, and that is something he takes very seriously.
"I want to be able to represent my family and my school well and I also know that I will be representing the Chicago Catholic League and Illinois for that matter. I'm just looking forward to getting out and competing with some of the best players in the country. Maybe if we do well the Army Bowl will look harder at Illinois players and see that we have some good players they might have more Illinois kids at the Bowl Game next year."
Ward, who gave Iowa his verbal commitment over the summer spent last weekend in Iowa City for the Hawkeyes' win over Northwestern.
"I went out to Iowa for the game last Saturday against Northwestern and I had a really good time. I was able to talk to my brother (Northwestern starting offensive tackle Patrick) after the game. I didn't rub it in too much that Iowa beat them because he's my brother. I'm totally solid with the Hawkeyes and they have been talking about me making my official visit sometime in January. Most of the recruiting has stopped and I'm just glad I made my decision early."
Ranked as the No. 12 offensive tackle prospect in the Class of 2012 and No. 82 overall, Ward is focused on this week's game against Mount Carmel and then on to the state playoffs.
"We have a huge game this week and that's my main focus. I guess I can enjoy this a little bit today but then once we get out to the practice field it's all about beating the Caravan. I'm also excited about the state playoffs but we need to get a win for over Mount Carmel."
Ward and the East team take on the West in the 12th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.