Ward shines at Pro Day

By Frank Gogola

Former NIU safety Jimmie Ward finally got his chance to show off his athleticism and speed.

Ward was one of 12 players who participated at the NIU Pro Day Friday at the Chessick Practice Center. In attendance were coaches and scouts representing 30 of the 32 NFL teams.

Ward was unable to participate with the defensive backs at the NFL scouting combine Feb. 25 at Lucas Oil Stadium because of a stress fracture in his right foot that he found out about the day before the combine.

After nearly two weeks of waiting, he showed off his athleticism and speed at NIU’s Pro Day.

“It was so long,” Ward said. “It was tiring, but it’s a mindset. So I had to get my mind right.”

Ward, who measured in at 5-foot-10 ½ inches and 197 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, recorded a 38-inch vertical jump and posted a broad jump of 10 ½ feet – all with his foot still fractured.

“All the teams wanted to see how fast I am,” Ward said. “Some people were saying 4.59 to 4.6. I’m like, ‘Wow, I covered Dri Archer. And Dri Archer ran a 4.2.’ Basically, I wanted to show that I can run a 4.4.”

Ward said he will have surgery on his foot next week and will take six to eight weeks to recover. He said he’s not worried about the surgery affecting his draft stock.

“You can’t erase tape,” Ward said. “They know what I can do on tape.”

Ward made 320 tackles, defended 37 passes and intercepted 11 passes during his 55-game career at NIU.

He met with four or five teams for approximately a total of 90 minutes after his workout, naming specifically the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings.

“I feel like the process just got started,” Ward said. “It’s OK, but this is nothing compared to what I feel like rookie year is going to be like.”