This being his last summer as a high school student, Riverside’s Braydin Ward wanted nothing more than to make the most of it.
Although six weeks remain between present and the start of the 2022 high school football season, it’s safe to say Ward has followed the path he was hoping to be on during the extended time out of school.
In May, Ward received offers from a trio of in-state Division II football programs — Charleston, West Virginia State and Alderson Broaddus.
That was before the defensive end participated in camps at both West Virginia and Marshall, and offers soon followed from the Mountain State’s two Division I schools.
“I’m very happy because I’ve been working for it for a long time and it’s finally starting to happen to where offers are coming from several places,” Ward said. “There’s a lot of emotions.”
The Thundering Herd were the first Division I school to offer Ward, who was in Huntington in January for Marshall’s Junior Day and went back five months later to participate in a 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 talked to a lot of the 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] was coaching me on what to do and how to do it during those 1-on-1 drills.”
For Ward, much of what he was taught at both Marshall and West Virginia weren’t things he was all the way familiar with.
“At WVU and Marshall, I have never seen a lot of the moves that they taught us and had us using,” 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, has made a name for himself during his Warriors’ career.
He worked his way up to the varsity team midway through his freshman season and after playing a good bit at linebacker as a sophomore, Ward transitioned to become a full-time defensive end prior to his junior campaign.
Ward finished with 56 tackles and eight sacks over 10 games in 2021.
“I like defensive end better, but I feel like can do everything,” Ward said. “It was really just a learning process and learning what to do at defensive end.”
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 are only aiding his recruitment. As a freshman, Ward, who also plays basketball, shattered the backboard on a dunk against George Washington. This summer, Ward discovered he has an 84 inch wingspan and 31 inch vertical leap.
As he continues fine-tuning his game with the Warriors during the three-week summer workout period, Ward has received a message from the Riverside coaching staff that’s stuck with him.
“They congratulated me and told me to keep working, enjoy it for the first day and stay on it,” Ward said. “If I get my head all big, all of it will disappear.”
Ward stressed he does not plan on choosing a college until the conclusion of his 2022 football season, one he hopes lasts longer than the Warriors’ 10 scheduled games are they finished 3-7 last season.
“As a senior, I’m trying to be more vocal,” Ward said, “but my main goals are to lead the state in sacks and make the playoffs.”