The initial rankings are out for the class of 2011 but it's never too early to get a jump on the class of 2012. In the case of Aberdeen, Miss. defensive end Channing Ward, that is exactly what several SEC teams have done.
At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Ward has a college-ready body and tremendous athleticism. He picked up his first offer from the University of Kentucky back in the fall. Now after attending several camps, he has picked up four more offers. And they're not second rate.
"In the fall I got offered by Kentucky," Ward said. "It felt good. This summer I've gotten four more from LSU, Ole Miss, [Mississippi] State and Alabama. It feels real good."
Ward's recent offers came after putting together strong camp performances in front of the SEC coaching staffs. He has now gotten in the routine of sitting down with head coaches following those performances and picking up the good news.
"They all told me in person," he said. "It felt good. You always dream about doing stuff like that and meeting those coaches but you never think you'll do it in person."
It is easy to see what college coaches are attracted to in Ward. As a sophomore, he tallied 150 tackles, 16 sacks and even hauled in two interceptions. One of his interceptions came while playing defensive end while the other came during some moonlighting at safety.
"The first one just fell into my hands and the second one I was playing safety," he said. "It was just that particular play I was playing there. I just broke on the ball. I liked safety. It feels better because you don't have to rush and pound into somebody the whole game."
Regardless of his success during his limited stints in the secondary, Ward will be spending his time in the tackle box on Saturdays. At this point it looks as though he will have plenty of options and early on LSU is emerging as a favorite after a good experience at its camp.
"The LSU camp stands out," he said. "You feel like you're at home and the environment is good. I got to talk to a lot of the coaches. They've got good facilities. I love their facilities, especially their stadium. I kind of favor LSU. I've always liked LSU."
For the rest of the summer, Ward has plans to camp at Kentucky and continue to work towards a state championship in the fall. Aside from building on his 150 tackles and 16 sacks, Ward hopes to get his weight up to 250 pounds while still holding onto his unique athleticism.