Cam Ward should be studied by science. Right now researchers are perfecting the usage of metamaterials to manipulate the path of light through material to create in essence, the illusion of invisibility. It’s the technology you don’t see coming. Likewise, Washington State quarterback Cam Ward’s career to date is a test case for a stealth riser at the most important position in sports. College football’s invisible quarterback has left footprints across the college football landscape. Even the school he’s leading now is the most surprising 4-0 team from a Power 5 conference. Or at least what remains of it.
In the wake of the Pac-12 exodus, Washington State is one of two programs without a permanent conference home. As appealing as Notre Dame looks going stag, Washington State looks sad and lonely. Ward is the best thing they have going for them.
And yet, he isn’t even the most recognizable quarterback in Washington state. That would be Michael Penix, the leading Heisman candidate and the Lineal College Football Belt holder. The top result for Cam Ward that pops up when you search for info on the Wazzu Heisman contender is the Carolina Hurricanes’ all-time leader in wins and shutouts.
That’s OK, though, I don’t need the primer because the forums have been poppin’ about Ward since he was at Incarnate Word two years ago. Incarnate Word sounds like a Quidditch diploma mill, but I swear it’s real. Back then, Ward was the underground scouting community’s favorite quarterback. And anytime the deep corners of the internet are flashing warning signals about a prospect who just led a Sisters of the Poor FCS program to their best finish, you’ve got to put your ear to the ground and listen. That’s the vision Incarnate Word head coach Eric Morris executed by offering a scholarship to a Wing T high school quarterback to direct his Air Raid offense in the first place.
Hailing from Columbia High School an hour outside of Houston, Ward was stifled by bad coaching, optioning off to running backs in a desolate town surrounded by the nation’s premier football factories. The leap of faith Morris took on Ward paid off for both. As one of the torchbearers of Mike Leach’s Air Raid offenses that have-nots like Texas Tech, TCU, and Tennessee have utilized to even the playing fields, he was worlds away from his high school offensive training.
And then in his debut against Top 25 McNeese State, Ward delivered by throwing for 306 yards and four touchdowns. By the end of his freshman year, he clinched the Jerry Rice Award sandwiched between 2019 winner Trey Lance and 2021 freshman phenom Shedeur Sanders.
After North Dakota State’s Lance rocketed up draft boards, searching the lower levels of college football for a hidden gem was the new wave. Ward opted to take the risky path of building his stock at the highest levels of college football.
Ward could have taken his chances by simultaneously building a brand for the NFL as the mythological folklore FCS QB du jour a la Carson Wentz, Trey Lance, Malik Willis, or Jimmy Garoppolo. Nope. After Morris accepted a promotion to become Washington State’s offensive coordinator, Ward followed him to Pullman where he took a year to acclimate before exploding out of the gates.
In the offseason, Morris took the head coaching job at North Texas, but Ward stayed behind to warp defenses with his legs and arm. Caleb Williams and Shedeur Sanders are cannibalizing the Pac-12 attention economy, but Ward should be the symbol of Pac-12 After Dark football. The other two are mainstream. Ward is the one who easily disposed of Colorado State, not Sanders, by dropping 451 yards on their heads. When he’s not creating pressure over the top, Ward taps into that Wing T background by climbing the pocket and navigating first downs with his legs.
He is the only quarterback in the country who has led his team to two wins over Top 25 teams. Last week, he outdueled Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who was once Bryce Young’s equal coming out of the California prep football scene. In a 38-35 shootout, Ward threw a touchdown on his second play from scrimmage en route to 400 yards and four touchdowns in a win over top-15 Oregon State. Thirteen touchdowns later, Ward still hasn’t been intercepted and the Cougs are 4-0. As the calendar flips to October, Ward is working his way into Heisman discussions and entering the spotlight for the first time.
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