To overcome adversity, Oklahoma’s D.J. Ward ‘needed to find something that would put me above everybody else’

D.J. Ward-Oklahoma-Oklahoma Sooners-overcome-adversity

A lot has changed since D.J. Ward committed to Oklahoma as the state’s top player in 2013.

A former 4-star prospect, the Southmoore, Okla., product sides with the Sooners over offers fromAuburn, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State, among others, and not surprisingly, high expectations followed and Ward admittedly felt that pressure.

“When I first came in, it weighed on me a lot, like, ‘Oh I can be this great, I can be this great,” Ward said in a recent feature, via Soonersports.com. I had to just chase greatness.’ That really used to just wear on me.”

To make matters worse, Ward’s collegiate debut was delayed more than an entire full season after he suffered an enlarged spleen during a summer workout. As a result, Ward dropped nearly 30 pounds and was forced to redshirt as a freshman while rebuilding his body.

Once healthy and back up to playing weight as a redshirt sophomore, Ward soon realized that the path to playing time was chockfull of blue-chip recruits and finding a way to separate himself was a must.

“Being highly-touted out of high school, people think, ‘oh, he’s just going to be a super specimen and a freak’ and all that,” Ward said. “Then once I got here and realized how that everybody is just as talented as me, I knew I needed to find something that would put me above everybody else.”

Fast forward four years and Ward has finally separated himself, overcoming the adversity the presented itself at the very front end of his collegiate career.

“He’s really kind of the glue that holds that D-Line together,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said of Ward. “He’s smart, he plays a lot of different positions. We ask him to do a lot of things.”

Halfway through his senior season, Ward has already recorded career highs with 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss, and his 18 tackles are on pace to surpass last season’s effort of 28. More notably, his better-late-than-never emergence has come at a time where the Sooners boast a top-10 team and National Championship aspirations.

Of course, Ward can lead the Sooners to a title on his own, but at a crucial point in their season, he’s become a player Oklahoma can simply count on day in and day out.

“Just one of the guys we can count on day in and day out; does everything right,” Stoops said. “It’s really good to see him come on and make some big plays for us and for himself just because he has had to overcome quite a bit.”

You can watch the full feature on the Sooners senior here.

The post To overcome adversity, Oklahoma’s D.J. Ward ‘needed to find something that would put me above everybody else’ appeared first on Diehards.

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