Ward among unsung Hawkeye heroes

Bower: 'His senior year he's kind of showing out, which is great to have'

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Kevin Ward took a chance five years ago.

"I just couldn't turn down the dream of playing Big Ten football," Ward said. "I never knew if I'd turn into anything here, but the way things turned out, I'd say that it's been the best decision of my life." 

Now the former walk-on is one of Iowa's senior leaders and a scholarship player.
 
"Everybody has a role on this team and mine is primarily on special teams," Ward said. "Coach said that we'd have a special teams captain each week this year. To be voted on by your teammates as a captain, you know, there's really no bigger honor than that on this team."
 
Ward has represented the Hawkeyes as the special teams captain in every game this fall. After 34 career games, he made his first start at linebacker at Northwestern.
 
"Josey's out, so we slide Ben over and he jumps in there and plays a really good game," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "So, you know, those are the kind of stories that fly under the radar, but that's what it takes to have a good football team. His attitude has been stellar ever since he showed up." 

Ward's journey from walk-on to special teams captain almost never came to fruition here at Iowa. As a high schooler he had a Division I offer from the Air Force Academy, declining it to play for the black and gold.
  
"Me and Bo (Bower) walked on, Josey (Jewell) wasn't highly recruited, just a bunch of kids from high school," Ward said. "Bunch of no-name guys, coming in here and being leaders on the team and being leaders on a pretty good defense. It's been an incredible ride. I really can't explain it."
 
The linebackers are extremely close because of their shared experiences. Fellow senior Bo Bower is Ward's roommate and says his dedication to the program is a model for younger players.
 
"He's a great guy and he works his butt off," Bower said. "There's not much else to say. He comes to work every day and he has. His senior year he's kind of showing out, which is great to have."
 
Bower called Ward one of the most intelligent players on the team both on and off the field, something that should serve the senior quite well when his playing days are over. 

For more Hawkeye football coverage, follow @AdamJRossow and @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter -- and now Facebook -- and Hawkeye Headquarters on OurQuadCities.com all season.


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