PULLMAN – Cameron Ward hasn’t yet taken a snap for Washington State. He hasn’t even played one game at the FBS level.
Still, the experts are predicting stardom for the Cougars’ new quarterback.
Ward has been named to the watch list for the prestigious Maxwell Award – given annually to college football’s most outstanding player.
The list, which was released Monday morning, includes 85 of the brightest offensive players in the FBS. Nine Pac-12 standouts and five of the conference’s QBs made the cut – Ward, USC QB Caleb Williams, Utah QB Cam Rising, Stanford QB Tanner McKee, UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, USC wide receiver Jordan Addison, Arizona WR Jacob Cowing, Utah running back Tavion Thomas and UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet. Ward is one of 42 QBs on the watch list.
Ward is the first Cougar to land on the Maxwell Award watch list since running back Max Borghi in 2020. Quarterback Gardner Minshew was a semifinalist for the award in 2018. QB Luke Falk and receiver Gabe Marks also earned watch list nods in 2016.
The hype surrounding Ward began to build immediately when the four-star sophomore transfer signed with WSU in January. The preseason expectations have only grown since.
Ward, after spending two seasons stuffing stat sheets at FCS Incarnate Word, quickly locked up WSU’s QB job during spring camp, impressing onlookers with his poise, precision and powerful arm. The 6-foot-2, 223-pounder has shown an advanced command of the Cougars’ new Air Raid system.
Leading the install of the offense is first-year offensive coordinator Eric Morris, who served as head coach at Incarnate Word over the past four seasons. Ward dazzled at UIW while leading Morris’ iteration of the Air Raid. He paced the FCS with 47 passing touchdowns – against 10 interceptions – and finished third nationally with 4,648 yards, guiding the Cardinals to 10 wins, a conference title and an appearance in the FCS playoffs.
Ward earned second-team All-America honors and was player of the year in the Southland Conference. He finished sixth in votes for the Walter Payton Award – the top prize for FCS players. Ward set multiple program records for the San Antonio school in just 19 games, including career passing yards (6,908) and TDs (71). Despite being lightly recruited coming out of Columbia High in southeastern Texas, Ward won UIW’s starting job as a true freshman in 2020 and ended up claiming the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top freshman in the FCS.
Now, the experts consider Ward a contender for a more prominent piece of hardware. A committee of various college football authorities will decide upon 20 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award on Nov. 1. Finalists will be revealed later in the month and the winner recognized Dec. 8.
WSU hires Ford as recruiting director
The Cougars filled a vacant seat in its recruiting department, selecting Southern California prep coach Stacey Ford to take the director’s chair that had been left unoccupied for the past month.
WSU announced the hire over Twitter on Monday.
Ford joins WSU after spending the 2021 season as defensive coordinator at Warren High in Downey, California. He replaces Marco Regalado, who stepped down from his post as WSU director of recruiting in early June to move back to his home state and join the recruiting staff at Rice University in Houston.
Ford’s defense at Warren – a talent-rich program in the Los Angeles metro – surrendered only 96 points in nine games last year. The Bears went 8-1, falling only to Corona del Mar 42-35 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
Additional details about Ford’s coaching background have yet to be publicized. The Cougs surely saw an opportunity to boost their influence in Southern California – one of their favorite recruiting areas.
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