Ford ready to challenge at Vidalia High

Published 12:01 am Saturday, July 7, 2012

vidalia — Lee Anthony Ford Jr. knows he is going to have to work hard this fall to climb the Vidalia High School depth chart as a freshman lineman.

To do that, he knows he will have to impress head coach Gary Parnham and beat out several older players at his position. But he said he is ready for the challenge and will approach fall camp like it is a battle.

“I know when I come out there, no one is my friend,” he said. “We will be friends outside of football, but when we are training on the field, I’ve never known you before, and you just talked about my momma. I’m going to hit you like you talked about my momma.”

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Ford gained some valuable experience and did not let age get in the way of becoming the best interior lineman he can be last month when he participated in the Offensive/Defensive Line Camp at Nichols State University in Thibodeaux, La., and although he was the youngest competitor at the camp, he felt he performed well, he said.

“It was a little bit different (competing against the older players),” Ford said. “Normally, I’ve been the youngest (at practices), because I am 13 going into ninth grade, so I’m used to being the youngest. But there it was a little different, because most people were 16, 17 and 18 getting ready to get out of school, and I was still holding my own and doing just as good, if not better, than the others.”

Ford said his youth was much easier to overcome than the physical exhaustion he endured during the camp.

“It was a good experience,” he said. “It was a four-day practice and very exhausting, but you know you learned something. We had three NFL coaches there and the rest were high school and college coaches. We did a lot of workouts every day. It will get you in shape for anything. It was the best workout I’ve ever done.”

Ford said after camp each day he only had enough energy to crawl in bed and watch TV or go to sleep.

Overcoming fatigue and still performing on his drills was the most important aspect of the camp, Ford said.

“It made me a better football player because halfway through camp it really takes a lot to push it out of you,” Ford said. “It’s a four-day camp that’s like 16 trainings, and we started early in the morning. You had to push yourself, and around the second half, you were extremely tired. But it’s the little petty stuff that you don’t think about at your practices. (High School practice) isn’t anything compared to what college and NFL players do. It made me a whole lot tougher.”

The camp also allowed Ford to see what life is like as a college athlete.

“(Being on campus) was a great experience in itself,” he said. “It gave you responsibility. You had to get up the next morning, and there was no staying up all night. You were responsible for yourself. I was away from home, it was a great dorm and it kind of gave me insight of what it will be like in college.”

Ford, who will be a freshman on the Vidalia football team this fall, said he worked on both offensive and defensive lines. He performed drills that helped his strength and technique on both sides of the ball, but he prefers defense to offense.

“I have to say I like defense more,” Ford said. “Defense is more of an aggressive thing. On defense you are going to hit someone, and offense you hit someone, but you are trying to stop him. On defense you get the good thrill of hitting someone.”

Ford started playing football in the third grade, but it took him a couple of years of playing running back and other positions before he fell in love with interior-line play.

“The first year I was a small boy and played running back,” he said. “But then I gained some weight, got bigger and became a lineman. I loved being a lineman better than being running back. I like to be the hitter. I don’t like to be hit. I like to hit the person before he has the time to hit me.”

Ford said the camp would help him this fall when he tries to make himself a known commodity on the Viking front lines. He said he wants everybody to know who he is by the end of the season.