It was his last summer as a high school student, Riverside’s Braydin Ward wanted nothing more than to make the most of it.
Although there are six weeks left between the present and the start of the 2022 high school football season, it’s safe to say that Ward has followed the path he hoped to follow during the long time away from school.
In May, Ward received offers from a trio of Division II football programs in the state — Charleston, State of West Virginia and Alderson Broaddus.
That was before the defensive end attended camps in both West Virginia and Marshall, and offers soon followed from Mountain State’s two Division I schools.
“I’m very happy because I’ve been working for him for a long time and it’s finally starting to come in where the offers are coming in from multiple places,” Ward said. “There are a lot of emotions.”
The Thundering Herd was the first Division I school to offer Ward, who was in Huntington in January for Marshall’s Junior Day and returned five months later to attend summer camp.
That same week, Ward was in Morgantown for a one-day camp, and he impressed the WVU coaching staff to the point of receiving a second Division I offer.
“I spoke to a lot of coaches and they were watching us in 1-on-1 drills and said they were impressed with what they saw,” Ward said. “[Defensive line coach Andrew Jackson] advising me on what to do and how to do it during these 1 on 1 drills.”
For Ward, much of what he learned in both Marshall and West Virginia was not stuff he was completely familiar with.
“At WVU and Marshall, I never saw a lot of moves that they taught us and made us use,” Ward said. “Everything they showed me was pretty much new.”
Ward, who plays defensive end and also sees action as a tight end and wide receiver at Riverside, made a name for himself during his career with the Warriors.
He worked his way up to the varsity team midway through his freshman season and after playing a bit of linebacker as a sophomore, Ward became a full-time defensive end before his junior campaign.
Ward finished with 56 tackles and eight sacks in 10 games in 2021.
“I like defensive end better, but I feel like I can do anything,” Ward said. “It was really just a learning process and learning what to do in defence.”
Ward says he still plans to attend camps at Penn State and Boston College this summer. At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Ward’s stature and athleticism only make his recruiting easier. As a freshman, Ward, who also plays basketball, broke the backboard during a dunk against George Washington. This summer, Ward discovered he had an 84-inch wingspan and a vertical leap of 31 inches.
As he continues to hone his game with the Warriors during the three-week summer training period, Ward received a message from the coaching staff at Riverside who stuck with him.
“They congratulated me and told me to keep working, enjoy it on day one and stay on it,” Ward said. “If I have a very big head, everything will disappear.”
Ward stressed he doesn’t plan to pick a college until the end of his 2022 football season, a season he hopes will last longer than the Warriors’ projected 10 games if they finished 3-7 last season. .
“As a senior, I try to be more vocal,” Ward said, “but my main goals are to lead the state in sacks and make the playoffs.”