The University Trojan football team hasn’t had many reasons to celebrate lately.
Despite hard work and perseverance from their coaches and athletes, the football team hasn’t won a single game since 2013. But the Trojans had reason to celebrate on Wednesday when Nick Ward, Willie McDonald and Andres Sustaita signed to play football with the Southwestern Assemblies of God Lions.
Ward was the pulse of the Trojans his senior year. He was also a true workhorse. No other running back in Central Texas carried the ball more than Ward’s 259 attempts and he finished third in yards with 1,596 and added 17 touchdowns.
It would be impossible for players to completely block out the criticism of a team that won a single game in four years. But Ward said he remained confident in his abilities and that helped him ignore the critics.
“Everything just boils down to heart over mind,” Ward said. “A lot of people say different things but most of it didn’t get to me. Because I know how much work I put in and how much I love the game.”
Another disadvantage of being part of a losing program is getting recognized. Ward grew frustrated at times, but he said it was worth the wait once he received his offer.
“The recruiting process is hard and stressful,” Ward said. “At times I felt like I was never going to get an offer and I worked hard for nothing. It just shows how you have to stay patient. So it finally came, it hit me, and I was just so happy.”
Ward is ready to get a fresh start with a new team, but he’s also happy to be going with two of his current teammates.
“It’s great,” he said. “I know with my teammates coming we’re going to make something big happen.
“It means a lot for me and my family,” he said. “Just to make them proud is all I’m worried about; getting on the field and making my family proud.”