Although the Michigan Wolverines lost one of their two verbally committed prospects from the class of 2014, head coach Brady Hoke should not lose any sleep over parting ways with offensive tackle Denzel Ward (Chicago).
Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com broke the news this afternoon, and Sam Webb of Scout.com confirmed that the coaching staff decided to part ways with Ward:
#Michigan has decided to part ways with 2014 IMG Academy OL, Denzel Ward— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 29, 2013
The writing had been on the wall for the Wolverines and Ward for quite some time now considering how fixated the IMG Academy lineman became on taking visits to other schools. Earlier this month, Ward told Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com he was not 100 percent committed to the Wolverines.
Once Ward picked up an offer from the Florida Gators and moved down to Bradenton, Fla. to attend the IMG Academy, his commitment began to waver. Another offer from the Ohio State Buckeyes also hurt Michigan's chances of keeping Ward in the fold.
An unofficial visit to Gainesville proved to be "the last straw" for Hoke and his staff, according to a report by Sullivan on Tuesday afternoon. Sullivan also noted that the Wolverines are likely finished recruiting the junior tackle.
Ward more than likely made an emotional decision less than one week after receiving a scholarship offer from Michigan during an unofficial trip to campus, and this recent decision by the coaches works out well for everyone.
Hoke once again proved the staff's policies on post-commitment visits are not going to be bent, and Ward gets to look around after bringing his recruitment to an end too early for his mother's liking last October.
"My mom wants me to take all my visits," Ward told Jennings. "I want to be able to see where I can play early and develop."
The second part of Ward's statement is the top reason why nobody in Ann Arbor should be fretting about the fact the Wolverines were not able to hold on to the 6'9", 285-pounder, despite being the first perennial power to offer him.
Three out of four offensive linemen from Michigan's 2012 recruiting class will be battling for the team's vacant spots at right and left guard this spring.
Additionally, the Maize and Blue will welcome seven more linemen to their 2013 roster, including 4-start tackles Kyle Bosch (Wheaton, Ill.), Logan Tuley-Tillman (Peoria, Ill.) and Chris Fox (Parker, Colo.), barring any surprises before Feb. 6.
Ward would have given the Wolverines an immense amount of depth at offensive tackle moving forward, though there is also a chance he could have wound up being stuck behind Michigan's highly touted prospects.
It is always frustrating for teams to lose recruits, but this move will not hurt the Wolverines going forward and is one that should not have taken anyone by surprise.
Thankfully, the coaches made the decision to separate themselves from Ward early enough to take a long look at some of the top linemen across in the nation.
Note: All player rankings are courtesy of Rivals.com.
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