Building block: Treshaun Ward

Treshaun Ward runs with vision and a purpose that it’s striking. And it has prompted many to wonder just why Ward was a walk-on at Florida State. 

Ward had a scholarship lined up and committed to Maryland in Sept. 2018. He also had second thoughts, not necessarily with the dismissal of then-Terrapins coach D.J. Durkin but just uncertainty as to whether the program was the right choice for him.

And so it began, the search for a school that would let him play football.

“It was late,” Tampa Bay Tech coach Jayson Roberts recalled this week to the Osceola. “He had tons of offers (prior to the Maryland commitment). He had all kinds of Big Ten, SEC, ACC offers. But by that time in November everybody had filled up.”

Ward is quiet by nature. When he committed to Maryland, he backed off communicating with other schools. His options were limited.

Roberts began working the phones. A few late offers came in. Toledo and Western Kentucky were among the schools that showed interest. Roberts also connected with Willie Taggart and David Kelly, who was then FSU’s recruiting coordinator, and they discussed the option of Ward becoming a preferred walk-on. 

The FSU staff liked what they saw on film — back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Tampa Bay Tech in his junior and senior years. Ward also had over a 4.0 grade-point average, so he could use the Bright Futures scholarship to pay part of his way at FSU.

He played in a couple games at the end of the 2019 season, including rushing 10 times for 44 yards in the Sun Bowl after Cam Akers had opted out for the NFL. Ward also had 54 yards and a touchdown in a Dec. 2020 win over Duke.

In the spring of 2021, FSU coach Mike Norvell took the pressure off Ward and his mom by giving him a scholarship. He had earned it. And Ward continued to work hard, pushing for playing time.

“He changed our recruiting thoughts a year ago because he’s a guy who I think has huge upside,” Norvell said in August. “I’ve been fortunate to be around a lot of really good backs and Treshaun has a skill set that I think can be really special.” 

Roberts uses Ward and others as an example.

“Know who you are, and if you’re confident in who you are, don’t be afraid to bet on yourself,” Roberts said.

Said Ward in August: “I just bet on myself and rolled the dice.”

Ward looked so good in August that he appeared in line to be one of FSU’s top three tailbacks. Norvell likes using three backs in a rotation but it would have been a stretch to think Ward would get the ball this much. He has 25 carries for 169 yards and a touchdown as well as three receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown going into Saturday’s game against Louisville (3:30 p.m. on ESPN2).

With Jashaun Corbin, Lawrance Toafili, Ward and others, the Seminoles have found a running back group that is more efficient than a year ago. Jordan Travis was the leading rusher a year ago, accounting for 31 percent of FSU’s rushing yards. But this year the focus is less on using quarterbacks like Travis or McKenzie Milton as runners and more on Corbin, Ward and Toafili.

When asked about the Seminoles’ offense through three games, especially the mental mistakes, Ward said they need to “stop with the selfish penalties and eliminate the turnovers. When we do that we’ll score more points.”

If FSU can reduce the self-inflicted mistakes, the ground game can be a foundation for the last nine games.

“I think the running game is going pretty well,” Ward said. “We have to work on the passing game, work on play action, get the defense to come up and then we can throw some deep shots.”