Ford top-notch on and off the field

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Friday, April 5, 2013
Dominating defensive lineman Poona Ford plans visit to Arkansas.
Dominating defensive lineman Poona Ford plans visit to Arkansas.

Coach B.J. Payne of Hilton Head High School in South Carolina said defensive lineman Poona Ford is the best player he's ever coached in Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Off the field, Ford is equally impressive.

"He's an absolute special kid," Payne said. "I can honestly say this, he's probably a once in a life time kid."

Ford, 6-1, 290, 4.86 seconds in the 40 yard dash, has the Hogs high on his list along with South Carolina, Tennessee and Ole Miss. He was scheduled to visit Fayetteville on Saturday but was unable attend due to being sick.

"He has a really high interest in them," Payne said. "So it's just a matter of time for us for the time to get him out there. We start spring ball May 1st . We go May 1st through May 21st. We're trying to get him out there before then."

Ford, who has approximately 20 scholarship offers, recorded 154 tackles, 44 tackles for loss and 11 sacks last season while also seeing full-time duty at fullback and playing on some special teams.

Payne has known cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson, who's the lead recruiter of Ford, for seven years.

"I've known Taver Johnson for a long time," Payne said. "I was at a high school in Ohio when Taver Johnson was at Ohio State and he use to recruit my school."

Payne recalls talking to Johnson about Ford in the beginning of the recruiting process.

"He said, 'How good is he?'", Payne said. "And I said he's the best I've ever coached and Taver said, 'OK, that's all I needed to know.' He said he looked the part on film and was just making sure and I said, 'Yea, he's the best.'"

He said Johnson is a big reason for Ford's interest in the Razorbacks along with the recent success the program has enjoyed.

"You leave last year out of it, you take in account the couple of years before that with Arkansas football and you're talking one of the top programs in the country." Payne said.

Ford educates himself on his possible school destinations.

"He does his research to as far as the passion of the fans and the support and going back," Payne said. "He's little bit of a historian. He's studied up."

Payne said Johnson is a consistent visitor to his school.

"When we didn't have an Ohio State guy or maybe a year where we didn't have a Division I he would always come through," Payne said. "He would always stop and I was always his last stop of the day. He would sit in the office for three or four hours and talk ball and talk life. He's incredible guy."

Ford isn't one to seek attention and shies away from being in the spotlight. After being rated the third best overall performer out of about 400 athletes at an Orlando Nike Combine, Ford was sought out by the national media.

"He looked at me and said, 'Coach, can we just get in the car and go?'" Payne said. "He's an extremely quiet kid. He didn't want to do all the media and all that. He's through the roof character wise. "

When Payne received word of Ford's first scholarship offer, he was set to go to his house to inform him the good news until receiving a call from his fiancée.

"She said, 'Can you wait an hour until I get off? I want to go with you to see his reaction,'" Payne said. "I think that speaks volumes to just the type of kid he is."

Ford's appreciation of every new scholarship offer sets him apart from others.

"In today's society and today's world of athletes his humbleness is absolutely extraordinary." Payne said.

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