John Tyler senior quarterback Greg Ward won the highest football honor in the state’s second-largest classification (4A) with his selection as Built Ford Tough Texas High School football player of the year.
Ward received his accolade, along with five other standout players, last Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Although Ward fell just shy of getting JT to the championship game at the same venue, he impressed nonetheless with a second consecutive season of more than 5,000 yards of total offense.
Other recipients included Southlake Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill (5A), Stephenville quarterback Tyler Jones (3A), New Boston running back Damien Haskins (2A), Stamford quarterback/safety Hagen Hutchinson (1A) and Plano Prestonwood Christian linebacker Mike Mitchell (private schools).
Past winners of the prestigious award include recent Heisman Trophy recipient Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Manziel attended Kerrville Tivy High School, while Griffin prepped at Copperas Cove before going on to Baylor.
“You want to call someone an MVP, you have to look at what they do off the field, not just on the field; are they putting in extra work in the classroom, in the weight room,” said Ward, who carries a 3.0 GPA and mentors middle school students and works with youth groups during the summer.
“Working harder, and putting in more work, that played a big part in everything. I feel like hard work pays off.”
The honor marks the second in four years for John Tyler. Former JT quarterback Jeremy Johnson, now a starting receiver at SMU, claimed the same accolade in Class 5A for the 2009 season.
Ward went on a four-month-long tear during JT’s run’s to the state semifinals. Ward totaled 5,053 yards and 56 touchdowns while leading JT to a 13-2 record. He completed 279 of 400 passes (70 percent) for 4,190 yards, 43 TDs and five interceptions, plus rushed 170 times for 863 yards and 13 more TDs.
In his final high school game, Ward tied a state record with 48 completions in a 57-53 loss to eventual champion Denton Guyer. He finished the epic performance with 551 yards and five TDs passing along with 109 yards and one score rushing.
The 5-11, 165-pounder signed with the Houston Cougars last week, a school where he intends to continue playing quarterback. Ward wrapped up his playing career with a 36-8 record, including 24-6 as the starting quarterback. Ward racked up a total of 10,744 yards and 112 TDs. He leaves JT as the school’s leader in all major passing categories, including completions (566), passing yards (7,963) and throwing TDs (77).
Ward went 17 games between interceptions, including the entire 2012 regular season. Over his three-year varsity career, he completed 70 percent of his passes, and threw only 10 interceptions in 800 pass attempts.
Ward starts for JT’s playoff-bound basketball team, his sixth postseason appearance in high school, with five varsity district titles under his belt.
“Greg’s an amazing young man,” John Tyler head coach Ricklan Holmes said. “Having the kind of season he had, he became more than just a John Tyler football player. He became the public face of the high school. But with all of the accolades, he never changed. He remained the same humble and mature young man who directed attention to the betterment of the school. Not only did our football program succeed, but the whole high school did well, thanks to Greg.”
A JT player has been selected a state player of the year six times, including two-time winner David Warren (95-96, 96-97), Hall-of-Famer Earl Campbell (73-74), Marc Broyles (94-95) and Johnson (09-10).