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Friday, February 22, 2013
Coaches' corner: DE D.J. Ward

By Brandon Chatmon

After recruiting them for several months, Oklahoma's coaching staff was finally able to talk publicly about the players the Sooners added to the program on signing day. Over the next week or so, SoonerNation will review some of the key things coaches had to say about the players signed at each position group during their signing day webcast on Soonersports.com.

Defensive end D.J. Ward (Moore, Okla/Southmoore) could be the most overlooked signee for Oklahoma. He didn't play during his senior year of high school after he was ineligible to play due to transfer rules. Therefore all the buzz and hype he had garnered during his sophomore and junior seasons disappeared.

D.J. Ward
Watch List defensive end D.J. Ward is already on campus at Oklahoma.
Yet, it didn't impact the Sooners coaches' excitement about landing Ward.

"D.J. is a guy that has been dying to play again," coach Bob Stoops said. "He has had a great attitude through it all and has continued to lift and run. You can tell that he looks like he is in excellent shape."

Ward is already on campus as an early enrollee which should help him shake off the rust after missing an entire season. Stoops is confident he can overcome it.

"I believe he will," he said. "He has continued to work out hard and looks great but I guess you do, you miss those snaps on the field.”

Once he does get back in the flow of playing football, Ward could make a difference during his career. He has good size, strength and quickness which gives him the ability to be a every down defensive end who can hold up against the run while developing into a solid pass-rusher.

"DJ is your prototypical defensive end," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.

And it could be sooner than expected with OU searching for pass-rushers this fall. The Sooners really struggled to rush the passer in 2012, opening the opportunity to make an immediate impact for newcomers like Ward.

"[He's] another guy who can factor in right away," linebacker coach Tim Kish said. "He’s got tremendous athletic ability, great size, great strength."