Ford wants to go out in style

Oklahoma running back commit wants state title before he enrolls in college

Updated: April 17, 2012, 11:15 AM ET
By Damon Sayles | ESPN RecruitingNation

Since verbally committing to Oklahoma in early March, running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Cy Ranch) hasn't been very talkative. Responses to media requests have been few, and calls from interested college recruiters have declined significantly.

You have to understand Ford's current focus to truly understand and appreciate his silence. It's nice to say that he has pinpointed his future college home. It's also an honor for Ford to earn a spot in Tuesday's initial ESPN 150, as he is ranked No. 36 on the list of the top recruits in the country.

Until there's a state championship ring on his finger, however, Ford's hustle continues -- and there are few people around who will get in the way of his preparation.

With that said, rather than talking about his future objectives, Ford prefers for people to simply watch him work.

"My main goal is to get a state championship before I go, so I've been working very hard for that," Ford said. "We all have been working hard, and our work ethic is better than it was before. After the past two years on varsity, I think we finally got it down. We now know what it takes."

Recruited to Oklahoma by assistant coach Cale Gundy, Ford has taken extra steps for self-improvement by participating in the Parisi Speed School, a performance-enhancement training company with multiple locations around the country. One look at the 5-foot-10, 205-pound running back on the football field shows the results of his extensive training.

Ford has increased his quickness and flexibility and he is a much stronger player compared to last season. Ford said his 40-yard dash time has dropped from 4.5 seconds to 4.37 seconds. His maximum bench press is now 315 pounds, and his maximum squat is 425.

"With the speed school, speed and strength are the keys," said Ford's father, Keith Sr. "I've seen a remarkable difference from when he started. Right now, he's just doing a lot of fine tuning.

"I'm used to him playing AAU basketball about this time. I feel like I wasted my money."

The final product from the spring training will be intriguing to watch when the season kicks off. Ford is coming off a junior year in which he rushed for 921 yards and 12 touchdowns on only 145 carries -- better than 6.3 yards per carry -- despite missing two games with a foot injury. He rushed for 1,296 yards and 10 touchdowns on 229 carries (5.7 yards per carry) as a sophomore.

Ford said he has noticed a significant difference in his acceleration and change of direction with the training. Ford also said that his goals aren't just to get better physically but mentally, and when he's not training, he said he is studying hours of game film.

It's that never-enough attitude that has made him such a coveted college football recruit. Ford chose Oklahoma over offers from powerhouse programs such as Alabama, Michigan and Oklahoma State and other major programs. His final list included Oklahoma, Florida, Florida State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Nebraska.

"The schools on his final list all have respectfully recognized that he's committed," Keith Sr. said. "There are a few schools out there still trying to get him, but he's a solid commit to OU."

Ford is excited about the possibilities at Oklahoma, but his attention currently is set on leading Cy Ranch. After the season, he will turn his focus to how he can be an asset for the Sooners. He is projected to be an instant contributor in the Big 12.

He's just hoping he can enter the conference with a ring -- which could serve as motivation to get another ring or two in college.

"I'm just trying to get better all around," Ford said. "It doesn't matter where you are now; everybody needs improvement."