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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2023 LB Troy Ford Jr. Mature Beyond His Years

March 25, 2021
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Football has always been important to Troy Ford Jr.

The 2023 linebacker grew up watching his uncle play football at Calvary Day High School (S.C.) and now stars for the Cavaliers as the physical presence up the middle. 

Physicality has always been at the heart of Ford's game and it has worried his mother, Jenn, at times. 

"He was probably five when he started playing," Mrs. Ford said. "He would just randomly tackle people. Some people would say he really had an eye for the ball, but sometimes he would get in trouble because he wouldn't listen to what he was told. Troy would just go after the ball." 

While Ford was physical from a young age, the Georgia native might have also played favorites at the beginning of his career. 

"He's always been a gentle giant," explained Mrs. Ford. "When he first started, Troy didn't want to tackle his friends. He didn't want to hurt them, but I'm like, 'You have to hit them.'

"It took a while, but now he doesn't mind tackling his classmates at all. He's very competitive." 

2023 Calvary Day (Ga.) LB Troy Ford Jr. 

Football has been important for Ford's development as a young man, and his mother at times has wondered if he does anything outside of football. 

"If he's not playing football, he's watching it or watching film, or playing Madden," laughed Mrs. Ford, referencing popular video game that has spanned decades. "I'm almost like, ‘Does he ever do anything that's not football?’"

EARLY ADVERSITY 

Ford didn't grow up like most kids. He was diagnosed with Tourettes and had several seizure-like events at an early age. 

Bullying accompanied it when he got to school, but Ford showed resilience and arriving at Calvary Day was a significant step in his life. 

"He's battled it," stated Mrs. Ford. "It took him a long time to accept it and deal with it. He would hide it and suppress it. When he got to Calvary, people would notice his eye keeps stretching, or he'd have a tick in his throat and have to clear his throat a lot. 

"They embraced him and really didn't bully him like other kids at his other school. They really helped him learn to accept it." 

Football became an escape for Ford. It was a place where he could not only be himself, but have fun being himself. 

"Football has been amazing for him," Mrs. Ford said. "When he's out there, you would never know he has it. 

"You can see him kind of shake his head every now and again when he gets really hot, but he's definitely managed it. As he's gotten older, it's calmed down a lot and it's not as severe as it used to be." 

Mrs. Ford also credits the Calvary coaching staff for welcoming her son with open arms and helping him mature. 

"The coaches at Calvary are so amazing," stated Mrs. Ford. "They are all about character building and if you go in there with a cocky attitude, they will sit you down. 

"They don't care if you're a top athlete or not. It's all about character with them and that's really helped a lot."

BIGGER PICTURE

If you have the chance to have a conversation with the 6-foot-2, 236-pounder, it doesn't take long to realize he's more mature than most adults. 

Ford's parents get much of the credit for how they raised their son, while Calvary Day's structure also has played a large part in his maturity. 

A college decision might be months away, but it won't surprise if Ford chooses a school similar to Calvary Day because he's seen the benefits of a healthy environment. 

"It's ultimately up to him and we're trying to guide him," said Mrs. Ford. "He's still my baby and when he leaves here, he's still going to be a baby. He's still learning and growing as a man and I want him to be a great man. 

"I know college can be a very big experience, so somewhere where they have some of a religious background - I want him to be a God-fearing man and to have character." 

Notre Dame has offered Ford a scholarship and the family has done initial research and have found several similarities. 

"Calvary is very family-oriented," explained Mrs. Ford. "It seems like Notre Dame is the same. They're all about character, great people and great coaches that will help develop him mentally, physically and academically.

"Even his teammates are more like family than just kids going to school together and that means a lot." 

STRUCTURE 

The foundation of Ford's morals and values comes from his family. 

Mrs. Ford admits she raised him old-fashioned and while strict, it's allowed her son to develop into a man. 

"Since he was old enough to walk, I've made him hold the door open for mostly women, but then he got to the point where he would just stand there for like five minutes holding it open for everyone. 

"I've raised him to use his manners and a gentleman. I don't care how many offers come. You remain humble, thank God and you don't go out there showboating." 

Jenn and Troy Ford Jr. 

Academics have always come first in the Ford household and it might have cost the Calvary Day star some time with his friends. 

"I've raised him where schoolwork comes first," said Mrs. Ford. "He has always had to get his schoolwork done and I don't let him run the streets a lot. He always wants to be with his friends and I might be too hard on him, but it's helped him develop character." 

Perhaps Ford's greatest quality is his unselfishness. He isn't afraid to put other's needs ahead of his own, which isn't the case for most his age. 

"When he was seven, he was at the store buying worms to go finish," recalled Mrs. Ford. "He bought like three containers of worms and the guy behind him came up to buy worms and the lady said Troy had bought the last of them. 

"Troy turned around and said, 'Pop, I've got to give him these worms. He doesn't have any.' He handed them to him just so he could have some. 

"That's just the kind of person he is and he just looks out for other people. He's very considerate and puts other people before himself."

Respect is also a trait of Ford and it's an area that he hasn't needed a lot of guidance. 

"I've tried to raise him to be a gentleman," Mrs. Ford explained. "Just be respectful to your adults whether you like it or not. I've told him whatever you have to say, write it down and throw it away.

"He just doesn't break the rules. He'll call me and asked if he can do this or that. I'm thinking to myself, 'Wow, I wouldn't have called my mom to ask her that. I would have just tried to get away with it.' 

"He's just been a good kid and that may change later on, but I hope not ever. I hope he continues to surround himself with good people and that's what we pray for all the time." 

NEW OPPORTUNITIES 

Georgia Tech was Ford's first offer on Feb. 17, 2021. Notre Dame followed suit last Wednesday and Ford will receive many more over the coming months. 

And like most recruits, Ford was caught off guard by the offers. It’s something every kid works for, but the realization of having a chance to play college football is an emotional one. 

"The big thing with him is he's like, 'Mom, how did this even happen?’,” stated Mrs. Ford. "'I never thought I would even get to play at a school like that.'

"He's humble with his talent. He doesn't see what's there and he's always trying to improve to get better." 

The offer from Notre Dame was also a special one for the Ford family. It's not that they were waiting for it because Notre Dame was his dream school, but confirmation Ford's focus on academics, athletics and character was paying off. 
 
"I'm trying not to cry again," laughed Mrs. Ford. "I was so happy for him because he works so hard. I'm really hard on him and I hold him to such a high standard. He's worked so hard in the classroom and on the field. 

"He gives it his all and it's just unreal. He grew up watching the movie Rudy and it's so funny to me that he got an offer from them because that's where Rudy was playing. 

"I just cried. We all cried." 

SAME FOCUS

Ford's foundation has allowed him to handle the recruiting process in stride. Some recruits get lost in the hype, but don't expect Ford to be one of those kids as he's focused on working harder. 

"The only thing that it's made him do, which has annoyed me, is it's pushed him even further to keep getting better," laughed Mrs. Ford. "He keeps having me sign him up for all these camps so he can compete. 

"I worry that he's doing too much. I mean, he has three lacrosse games this week and then he's got games in Myrtle Beach for 7-on-7 and then you have the camps. 

"It's given him more of a drive to continue to get better. He's very thankful to be able to compete and he doesn't turn down competition. 

And yes, Mrs. Ford's old-fashioned style of parenting has made it's way on the recruiting trail. 

"What I tell Troy is as fast as you get it, you can lose it," said Mrs. Ford. "If you have bad character, they're not going to want you because they don't want to babysit kids. They want to know that they have someone that's going to show up, do the schoolwork, get your stuff done and come to practice every day. 

"I think that's another part of how I raised him. If you commit to something, you do it 100 percent. You don't skip anything."

 
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