Purdue commit Ward still evaluating

Purdue commit Ward still evaluating

Denzel Ward hopes his two official visits, Oklahoma and South Florida, help solidify his Purdue pledge.

Nearly a month ago, after leaving a visit in West Lafayette, Denzel Ward admitted he sees a future with Purdue.

While Ward remains a verbal commit to the Purdue program, he will see two other programs on official visits: South Florida on December 13 and Oklahoma on January 17. It's part of his plan to ensure, by comparison, that Purdue is the perfect fit.

These newly-minted visit dates come two days after another visit at Purdue, one where he got a good feel for what the program offers.

"I just want to solidify my reason for Purdue and to show why I believe in the staff so much," Ward said. "We had a great conversation with Coach Hazell, my mom and I, and we like him as a man. We want to sit down with other coaches and see the differences."

In September, Ward had scheduled visits at UCLA and Florida, but both were canceled. The Bruins had already moved on to other plans while the Gators' program began to build some concerning instability, he felt. Still, the Oklahoma plans remained in place and a new school, South Florida, entered the picture.

While at Purdue, Ward was honest with Hazell and the Boilermaker coaches about his intention to see what these other two schools have to offer.

"They know about it and my reason for it, and they don't have any problem with it," Ward said. "They just want me to get on Campus and get this over with."

The weekend visit at Purdue didn't change anything for Ward, who remains high on the program's future. He still has a genuine belief in Darrell Hazell. The personal meeting with the head coach only solidified that.

"If you look at Coach Hazell's record, he was at Kent State and turned it around," said Ward. "Even though they've only won one this year, they can win at least six games and be bowl eligible next year, then in my sophomore year be in the Rose Bowl conversation."

The feeling is mutual among the Boilermakers' young core and their future members in the 2014 recruiting class, many who visited for Saturday's game against Iowa. Hazell remains the same confident coach, too.

However, it was obvious to Ward and everybody else at Ross-Ade Stadium that Purdue needs help on the field. Hazell was upfront with the tackle in saying a starting spot on the offensive line is a strong possibility. The chance to play early is something Ward appreciates.

"There are two tackles leaving next year, and that's very [important for Ward]," he said. "With what [offensive coordinator John] Shoop and [offensive line coach Jim] Bridge are doing, they need guys to come in there and really help this system. Coach Hazell even let me know I'm a guy that can come in and starts as a freshman if I work on some things. I'm working to be an All-Big Ten freshman."

But before a letter of intent is faxed to Purdue, Ward wants to make sure it's the right fit.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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