Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Oklahoma Sooners [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Q&A: Coach of OU RB commit Keith Ford

By Bob Przybylo

Entering the season, Cypress (Texas) Ranch had never won a playoff game. It was something ESPN 150 Oklahoma running back commit Keith Ford had on his mind throughout his senior season.

He thought he would get a chance as a junior but a late-season foot injury took him out, and Cypress Ranch faltered down the stretch and didn’t qualify for the postseason.

Not a problem in 2012, and Ford was a huge reason for the team’s success. He had 280 carries for 1,868 yards with 24 touchdowns. He was also the team’s leading receiver with 15 receptions for 500 yards and four touchdowns.

Cypress Ranch won three playoff games before being derailed by powerhouse Katy. Cy-Ranch coach Gene Johnson talks with SoonerNation about why OU fans should be excited about Ford coming to campus:

SoonerNation: What changed with Keith as a senior compared to when he was younger?

Gene Johnson: He did what all great kids with his work ethic do. He grew and matured as a player. He was so eager to learn what his job was, but then he also spent so much time learning what the jobs of what others had to do. He knew all the schemes.

SN: The season didn’t start off with a bang as Ford fumbled three times and was ejected in that first game. Looking back now, what happened?

Johnson: That was a real tough game for us because there was a lot of media attention surrounding it that we weren’t ready for. Kids were so anxious to do good but couldn’t get out of their own way. I think if the refs had a second chance and could review the film, Keith wouldn’t have been ejected.

SN: How much did that game change the way Keith approached the rest of the season?

Johnson: He did change a lot. He had been injured the year before and wanted to show everybody what he could do. After that game, he relaxed and just played his game with no pressure.

SN: You guys had a couple of crazy games. Any one of them stand out?

Johnson: We had two games that were as interesting as any I’ve ever been a part of -- against Langham Creek [64-63 overtime win] and in the playoffs against Manvel [43-42]. Keith had two incredible games there and produced so much.

SN: Why should OU fans be so excited that Ford is going to be a Sooner?

Johnson: I’m old-fashioned. The product that is on the field and representing the university needs to be good kids and quality people. That’s Keith. He’s a quality young man and a heck of a player. He’s very explosive and has all the tools. People ask me to define him. You can’t. He catches the ball well. He protects in passing situations. He’s physical but an elusive runner. He can do it all. He’s somebody you don’t have to take out on third down passing situations, and you don’t have to take him out on short-yardage plays. Total package.