Mater Dei offensive lineman Chris Ward.

Versatile Ward eager to join class at UCLA

Recruiting updates from around Orange County.

When it came to athletics, Chris Ward picked Mater Dei for basketball.

He played club ball as a youth and attended Mater Dei’s camps in middle school.

But after playing basketball and football his freshman year, Ward switched his allegiance.

Despite starting on his freshman basketball team, he decided to focus on being an offensive lineman. At the time, he thought he had a brighter future in football.

On Wednesday, Ward’s future will sparkle like never before.

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound senior will sign a national letter of intent with UCLA’s football program and join ranks with a talented recruiting class.

Wednesday is the first day high school recruits can sign letters of intent.

“It worked out pretty well,” Ward recently said of his decision. “We’ve got a good class coming in this year (at UCLA), so I’m so excited.”

Ward is expected to be one of at least three offensive linemen in the class. Because of his years playing basketball, footwork is one his strengths.

“That where I got all my footwork from,” Ward said. “Post moves are pretty much the same as moving around blocking people.”

Ward also brings versatility to Westwood. At a freshman at Mater Dei, he played right tackle. He moved to left guard as a sophomore. As a junior and senior, he settled in at left tackle.

Ward’s versatility includes his rush- and pass-blocking skills. Mater Dei’s pro-style offense gave him plenty of time to polish both.

UCLA out-dueled Cal for Ward. He said in his mind he flipped flopped between the schools about six times before committing to Bruins in October.

Ward’s mother, Liz, helped him organize his thoughts. She had him compare the schools in 21 categories. The comparisons were transcribed to flash cards that eventually were arranged on a table in the family’s living room in their home in Huntington Beach.

In the end, Ward became one of the few Mater Dei standouts in recent years to commit to UCLA. Mater Dei long has been a USC stronghold.

“Another interesting thing is (the commitment of running back) Malcolm Jones of Oaks Christian,” Ward said. “He was the first one from his school to go to UCLA, too.”

Zumwalt visits USC

Edison linebacker and Register defensive player of the year Jordan Zumwalt visited USC over the weekend, West Coast recruiting expert Greg Biggins of ESPN RISE confirmed. Zumwalt has long been a Stanford commit but also has visited UCLA.

USC also made contact last week with Newport Harbor linebacker Cecil Whiteside, a longtime Cal commit. Whiteside said assistant coach Ed Orgeron visited him at school and offered him a visit to USC. Whiteside declined.

Snappers to watch

Mater Dei long snapper Joe St. Germain will visit Florida the weekend of Feb. 13. St. Germain said the Gators have offered him a spot as a preferred walk-on. If he earns a starting position, St. Germain said he could earn a scholarship from the Gators.

Virginia Tech and Colorado have expressed similar interest in St. Germain. …

Foothill junior long snapper Derek O’Dell won the Chris Sailer national kicking and snapping event in Las Vegas, Jan. 16-17, Knights coach Doug Case announced.

Loving Utah

Fullerton All-County running back Joseph Hill has committed to Utah State in Logan. “I like that it’s a nice college town filled with nice people and the facilities are great,” he wrote in a text message. … Trabuco Hills first-team All-County offensive lineman Zach Russell has committed to Southern Utah, former Mustangs coach Jason Negro said.





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