It almost feels like more players are in the transfer portal than on a roster in college football. Although the trajectory of the sport has been forever changed, programs must now adapt or die. That is why Cam Ward, formerly of Incarnate Word and Washington State, is the hottest commodity currently in the portal.
Cam Ward: The Prize Of The College Football Transfer Portal
Ward, a former zero-star recruit out of Columbia HS in Texas, blossomed during his time at the FCS level. Thanks to a steadfast belief in him by then Cardinals head coach Eric Morris, the gifted signal-caller posted video game numbers. Ward completed north of 60 percent of his passes, with an impressive final-year stat line of 4,648 passing yards, 47 passing touchdowns, and ten interceptions.
His success at Incarnate Word led to a few Power 5 schools entertaining the thought of bringing Ward in via the transfer portal. He ultimately chose to follow his former head coach, as Eric Morris took the job as offensive coordinator for the Washington State Cougars. The two made even more magic in 2022.
In Year 1 in Pullman, Ward showed up-and-down play early on before settling in and gashing opposing secondaries with ease. He ended the season with a respectable 64.4 completion rate, including 3,231 yards through the air and 28 total touchdowns. Things were shaken up entering the 2023 campaign.
Morris assumed the role of head coach for North Texas following a successful one-year stint with the Cougars. Ward didn’t miss a beat, however. In fact, the uber-talented signal-caller put up even better numbers in Morris’ absence.
A career-high 66.6 percent of passes were completed in 2023, highlighting his growth as a processor and mechanically as a passer. Ward totaled 33 touchdowns on the year with nearly 4,000 passing yards under his belt. Those numbers are merely the cover of the book; one dive into the tape shows how truly special he is.
From A Talent Standpoint, Few Can Match Ward’s Skillset
Ward flashes dominant arm strength. He can sling the ball 60 yards downfield without breaking a sweat, and in 2023, he began fitting tighter windows than usual in the intermediate phase of the game. What stands out the most with Ward is how frequently he improves. The work ethic is unprecedented.
One area Ward has grown exponentially is his ball placement, both on deep shots and the routes from 0-15 yards. More often than not, the pass by Ward is put in a spot where only his receivers can get to it. Although he can be a tad reckless as a decision-maker, the tape shows far more consistency than you might expect.
Going further, Ward is a threat to create outside of the pocket. He has an endless amount of arm angles at his disposal, often looking like a shortstop on the baseball diamond. His accuracy dips on the run, but the big plays he creates while improvising make it easier to digest.
As a runner, Ward is incredibly gifted. He has the burst to take tacklers by surprise, ruining their angles and creating more yardage than would have otherwise been there. That being said, the 21-year-old is a passer first — he only scrambles when it’s necessary to do so.
His frame is another feather in the cap for his NFL dreams. At 6-foot-2 and weighing 223 pounds, Ward checks all the boxes physically. He displays remarkable vision when surveying the field from the pocket and always has his eyes glued downfield when the pocket collapses.
Ward could do better at speeding his internal clock up. It’s nice to see such poise and comfort within the pocket, but sometimes a tendency to create big plays will result in costly sacks. On top of that, continued improvement with his footwork will only further boost his accuracy numbers.
Where Will Cam Ward End Up? How Does That Impact His NFL Draft Hopes?
Washington, Oregon, Ohio State, Florida State, and USC have all been tied to Cam Ward already. A dark horse, the LSU Tigers, shouldn’t be ruled out, either. If Ward transfers to any of these programs, he will become a Heisman front-runner upon arrival. With that will come even more eyes, giving him the chance to fly up NFL Draft boards everywhere.
But as Ward said in his announcement on X, a jump to the NFL is still a possibility. He will exhaust all avenues before deciding on which path to take. If he declares for the 2024 NFL Draft, Ward will likely be the QB3 on my Big Board. If he returns to college and excels, the QB1 mantle will be within reach in 2025.
Either way, the football world knows Cam Ward’s name. From a high school recruit without a single offer other than Incarnate Word to the prize of the transfer portal. The story of Ward has already begun; expect 2024 to be the year he becomes a household name. It’s about time.