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COLLEGE: CANTON GRAD WARD PREPARING FOR FALL SEASON AT RUTGERS (2022-07-24)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
It’s been a long and winding road for Canton’s Timmy Ward, but he’s finally where he’s always dreamed of being - on a Division-I football team.

“It was very hard,” Ward said about going through his multiple health issues - battling cancer and rehabbing an ACL tear. “There was a lot of times I kind of wanted to give up the whole football dream, and go to college, and be a normal student.”


Normal hasn’t been a word to describe Ward - not his abilities on the gridiron and the path he’s taken to get here. Now, though, normalcy is something he ascribes to. Ward just wants to be another player on Rutgers as he uses this summer to get better, and work his way up the depth chart.


“Being able to enjoy it, and get to know them, it was definitely worth what I went though,” said Ward. “I’m glad things worked out.”


He’s now doing what all underclassmen in big time football programs do - trying to improve.


“This summer I’m focusing on learning the playbook, working on footwork, working on getting stronger, and faster, and really focused on every aspect of my game,” said Ward. “Learning defense is the biggest thing.”


Leading up to Rutgers’ spring game he was working on the offense, but then switched to defense right before. He finished with 2.5 tackles on the day, but it wasn’t easy.


“There’s a lot of little things I didn’t know in high school,” said Ward, noting that defenses are much more complex in college. “The different things you’ll check out, what base the offense is in. The basics are the same, it just dives in deeper once you get into types of offense: different plays, different personnels, trying to make match-ups, and different things like that.”


Regardless, he couldn’t have asked for a better debut.


“It was definitely surreal,” said Ward. “Everything came together, like how I always pictured it. A year ago, I didn’t know if this would be happening, but I just go out there and play, and do what I’ve always wanted to do.”


He’s played safety his whole career, but the quarterbacks at this level are a little bit different than in the NTL.


“In high school, when you play safety, you just read the quarterback all the time, watch him and he’ll tell you where he’s going,” said Ward. “In college, quarterbacks are trained to mislead safeties and defensive backs.”


While Ward won’t be going back to offense, he is open to playing on special teams, if needed.


“I would love to get on special teams,” he said. “Getting on the field anyway I can.”


Of course, all of this comes at the expense of spending time with his family. Sacrifice, though, is something the Ward’s know well, and they couldn’t be happier to see Timmy living his dream.


“My parents and sisters, they all understand, this is what I want to do,” Ward said. “They’re very supportive. They want to go to games, they want to do all that. I don’t like missing all their things, but the next few years I’m going to have to do what what I need to to be the best version of me.”


He did take notice of what his alma mater did this past fall as the Warriors won an NTL title, a district title, and made the state semifinals.


“It was really cool to watch them succeed, and do all the things they wanted to do this season, said Ward. “A lot of my buddies are still there playing. It was a very cool thing to see.”


PHOTO CREDIT: RUTGERS ATHLETICS



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