Jerome Ford's move to receiver catches colleges' attention

Armwood’s Jerome Ford, who has moved to receiver, makes a touchdown catch during a spring jamboree.
Armwood’s Jerome Ford, who has moved to receiver, makes a touchdown catch during a spring jamboree.
Published June 23, 2016

Jerome Ford did not post gaudy statistics last season. The Armwood athlete had just three touchdowns, well short of his goal of 10.

The numbers — or lack thereof — have a lot to do the unbelievable depth the Hawks possess at the skill positions, particularly at running back.

So Ford moved to receiver. He had two catches in the spring jamboree against Tampa Bay Tech, both resulting in touchdowns of 50 yards or more.

Those two receptions were enough for colleges to start offering at a rapid pace. Ford, a rising junior, now has eight offers, the biggest coming from Arizona, Louisville, Iowa State and USF.

"I was a little surprised at how quickly the offers started coming after the spring game because I haven't been able to do that much on the field — yet," Ford said.

Ford's meteoric rise is not that unusual, especially at Armwood. Last spring, running back Brian Snead was a virtual unknown yet still managed to reel in impressive offers from major schools such as Florida.

What makes Ford an intriguing prospect is his speed. Known more for his performance in track, Ford has run the 100 meters in 10 seconds consistently since middle school.

"Jerome can flat-out fly," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "He's probably the fastest guy we've had in the program. He can legitimately run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds."

"Truth is, I can probably go faster in the 40," Ford added.

To bulk up his frame, as well as his recruiting profile, Ford has hit the weight room.

At first Callahan had to harp on the importance of lifting.

"The speed, the physical aspects of the game … Jerome has all that down," Callahan said. "But we really have to get on him and make sure he stays in the weight room. I mean he was a track guy, so he's not used to coaches being on him all the time about lifting.

"If Jerome stays dedicated to it, he'll be an absolute freak."

For Ford, the toughest part was finding ways to stay motivated.

"Weight lifting is boring," Ford said. "I just don't like sitting around. It's like school all over again. But I know I have to do it because it will get me in that much better shape and help prevent injuries."

The 5-foot-11 Ford added 10 pounds to his frame in the past year and now weighs 195. He can bench 240 pounds and squat more than 300.

The strength showed at a UCF camp this past week.

"I was blocking a guy who was almost twice my size, and I was able to push him downfield," Ford said.

This fall, the goal still is the same: 10 touchdowns.

He will have to share the workload even more to get that total. Quarterback Devin Black transferred from Lennard. That means Darrian McNeal, last year's starting quarterback, will move to running back or receiver.

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In all, the Hawks have six offensive skill players with at least one Division I-A offer.

"The talent we have at those positions right now is sick," Callahan said.

Still, Ford believes he will be able to stand out in that crowd.

"I'm excited about playing receiver," he said. "I'll get more playing time and be able to put up more numbers. And if I reach 10 touchdowns during the season, I'll just keep trying to score and add to what my goal was."