Every player has high aspirations in any sport at any level. Junior safety Jimmie Ward has clear cut goals in mind.
Ward’s goals range from the very general of getting pass break ups, getting over 100 tackles and making big plays at key times.
“If I could do it, if I’m really trying, I’d like to get All-American,” Ward said. “I’m trying to get at least like five to six picks, get a lot of pass break ups, and do some things on special teams, like block some punts.”
In this season, Ward has already accumulated 33 tackles in just three games, has one interception and has broken up five passes.
Head coach Dave Doeren has taken notice of the performance from Ward, which has already garnered him a MAC West Defensive Player of the Week.
“He is playing at a high level,” Doeren said in a press conference. “Jimmie really likes being around the football. He wants to lead our team in tackles and a lot of people say your safety shouldn’t do that, but Jimmy plays in our nickel spot a lot where he is playing linebacker, as well.”
Not only has Ward impressed his coaches, but his teammates have taken notice and appreciate what he brings to the team defensively.
“The defensive line and the secondary work together throughout the year,” said senior defensive end Sean Progar. “It’s big because he can come up and play the run like a linebacker. It’s key to have a sure tackler like him back there, someone that’s not scared to not come down and hit somebody to set a tone for the secondary.”
Ward credits not just his coaches for his success this and last season, but also his love of being a physical player.
“Me as a football player, it’s just tackle, tackle, tackle,” Ward said. “I just try to take out all my frustration. Every time I make a tackle, I try to make a statement. So, I try to have a hard lick on any player.”
Progar noted that Ward is not a verbal leader on the team, but that’s not a necessity.
“Jimmie is definitely a leader by example,” Progar said. “He’s not a real talkative guy. You watch him play, he plays as hard as he can every snap. As long as he does that, you don’t have to be the person to say something to other people. If you do what you’re supposed to do to the best of your ability, people notice that and follow that. I think that’s his biggest improvement his year, setting that example for the secondary.”