In this installment of the Recruit Notebook, we look at a player who has plenty of size and strength, and will be an integral part of the DL for years to come: DT Jonathan Ford.
Miami adds a very athletic DT in 6’5” 275lb Jonathan Ford. A South Florida product from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Dillard HS, Ford is a player who is well suited to play in Manny Diaz’s attacking 4-3 defense.
Ford is in the same mold as starting DT RJ McIntosh as far as build an athleticism. Ford used those traits to great success in HS, ending his HSFB career with nearly 200 tackles and more than 20 sacks over his last 2 years. Ford played with some other nice prospects on the DL at Dillard (Kentucky DE commit Jordan Wright and UCF DE commit Stephan Zayas), but was the interior force that drew double teams to let Wright and Zayas have 1-on-1’s on the outside.
Ford’s recruitment was fairly straightforward. After committing to Miami in January 2016, Ford was loosely connected to several schools, Kentucky most notably. After flirting with Kentucky and even going so far as to schedule a visit there, Ford shut down his recruitment shortly before National Signing Day, sticking with the Hometown Canes.
On the 247sports composite, Ford is a 3-star prospect, the #27 strongside DE in this class (he’s being recruited to play DT, so don’t worry about that), the #52 player in the State of Florida, and the #382 player in this class overall. There’s a good case that Ford should be ranked higher than he is, but I’m not going to fight about it. He’s big, and strong, and damn good, regardless of star rating.
Ford committed to Miami over 28 other offers including Kentucky, Tennessee, Southern Cal, Auburn and LSU.
Ford as a player
Like I said before, Ford dominated the interior of the line at the HS level. He is adept at using his 6’5” 275lb frame to both occupy and beat opposing OL. Ford routinely commanded double teams at the HS level, a testament to both his size and skill.
While Ford is a Miami caliber player and had many high major offers as I detailed in the previous section, I wonder how highly regarded he would have been had he played for a more heralded HSFB team. I’ve seen several players at this position from SoFLA come out with far more fanfare and far less physical development and on-field skill than Ford possesses.
For another look at Ford, here’s an eval from a former HS and Collegiate DL:
The most I ever laughed watching a tape may have been checking out Jonathan Ford's junior and senior tape. At 6'5 and 270 pounds, Ford manages to be around the ball at all times. What brought a chuckle out of me is the way that he plays to the whistle. The guy falls in the category of when he's on your team you love him, if he's not then you can't stand him, think of Draymond Green in that sense minus the crotch kicking.
On a serious note, of the lineman committed he uses his hands the best. Having played on the interior of the defensive line this was out of necessity. Ford has nice swim and decent rip move that he uses in combination.
"Savage" is a endearing term to give Ford who played most of his HS ball as a DT, but could kick outside if there was a need. Able to anchor down when hit with a double-team, locking down his gap. Brings it in all phases of the game as attested to by his blocking on special team, which like his defensive pursuit, he makes sure to finish at - or around- the whistle. He's the living testament to being an actual "lunch pail" type guy.
On special teams he will finish a block, it just doesn't seem like the guy has much let up in him. He's a mean dude at a position where you have to be in order to thrive, and I would take that on my team any time.
Miami has a nice group of DTs returning in 2017, including RJ McIntosh, Kendrick Norton, Gerald Willis III, and Courtel Jenkins. The good thing is that quarter is very good, and led the way up front for a team that had 108 TFLs in 2016. The bad thing is that all 4 of those players is draft eligible after the 2017 season and could potentially leave early.
As I said in the player preview portion, Ford reminds me of RJ McIntosh coming out of HS. Seeing the career path that McIntosh has taken, that’s a good thing.
Chances for a redshirt: 4/10
Ford has the size and skill to play right away at Miami. But, there’s a solid group of DTs returning in front of him. Miami might be well served to find a way to get Ford some PT in 2017 in advance of him potentially being a starter in 2018.
That’s it for this installment of the Recruit Notebook.