There is no doubt that when NaDerris Ward (6-5, 245, 4.55) from Oakland (Calif.) McClymonds is healthy that he is one of the top tight end prospects in the nation, if not the best. Because Ward is currently on the mend with an injury, he didn't participate at the NIKE Camp in Palo Alto, but he was in attendance and he sure passed the eyeball test. Let's just put it this way, if looking like a football player could play, Ward would be a 10.
"NaDerris has to get his knee scoped and get that cleared so [coaches] didn't get to see him work out which was a disappointment for both sides," McClymonds coach Alonzo Carter said. "We understand that some of the big schools are holding off because of his injury and not knowing the extent of it, and we don't fault them for that. Most of the guys that seen him Saturday had a chance to eyeball him."
"NaDerris has 16 offers," Carter said. "Right now the main schools on one of his lists were Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida, Mississippi State, Arizona, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington. We've kind of tried to narrow the 16 down."
"We don't rule out any possibility because it's still early in the process," Carter said. "It's been a pretty overwhelming situation as far as his film is on Rivals.com and a lot of people have seen it there and they kind of ran with it."
"His first official offer he got was from Arizona and then three weeks later it was in double digits," Carter said. "It's a situation that he is remaining humble about."
Ward is a throwback to the tough guy who plays through pain. Even though he has played in pain he still performs at a very high level.
"NaDerris did it last summer and then came back the third game of this season and played throughout the season," Carter said. "Then he aggravated it again during basketball season, but played all the way through. He doesn't complain about the injury, but we wanted to get it dealt with because he was playing with pain throughout the year."
Ward has the athletic ability to play a number of positions on the D-I level. Though he would prefer to play tight end for his college team he could end up playing on the defensive side of the ball.
"NaDerris likes tight end, but he likes defense as well," Carter said. "He's a kid that wherever there is a need, he is going to play. He just wants to play."
"In tenth grade he was more of a basketball guy, but now his worlds have kind of changed to where he is more of a football guy that plays basketball," Carter said. "That's something that he wants to prove to everybody that he is aggressive and physical."
What are Ward's goals for the coming season?
"My first goal is to definitely win a championship with my team here at McClymonds High School," Ward said. Individual goals are excellent, but it is always team first."
How is Ward's rehab going?
"It's going well," Ward said. "We're basically trying not to do too much right now because we don't know exactly what it is. We're pretty sure it is the meniscus, but we trying to find out exactly what it is."
How is Ward's recruitment going?
"Right now, in the situation I am in, the schools that are after me and enjoying how I play and respecting the things I can do on the field," Ward said. "I will stick with those schools now."
Rivals.com correspondent Josh Helmholdt contributed to this story.