After taking several visits in January, consensus four-star Hilton Head Island (S.C.) Hilton Head defensive tackle Poona Ford has committed to the Texas Longhorns, tweeting out his decision from the @ESPNU Twitter handle before appearing in-studio to discuss his choice.
He is one of the best players from South Carolina in this recruiting cycle, which earned him attention from the likes of Oregon, Louisville, Missouri, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Tennessee and Oklahoma State, among many others.
The 6'0, 285-pounder from Hilton Head High School checks in as the No. 22 defensive tackle and No. 263 overall player in the 247Sports composite rankings, which are an average of the major recruiting services' evaluations.
ESPN ranks Ford 22nd at his position and 266th overall, and Scout considers him the No. 23 defensive tackle in the class as well as the No. 278 overall prospect. Rivals isn't quite as high on him as those two, ranking him 33rd at his position and outside of its top 250. Rivals also pegs Ford as a three-star player, differing from the general consensus.
Ford was originally a Louisville verbal, but he decommitted on Jan. 10. A week later, he made an official visit to former Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong at Texas. He also visited Oregon, Purdue and Missouri in the last month.
The only thing holding Ford back from being a high four-star prospect is his height. However, height matters as little for defensive tackles as any position, as long as they are right about in the six foot range, as Ford is, because leverage is such an important consideration in the trenches -- winning the leverage battle often determines which linemen wins the overall battle along the line of scrimmage.
And Ford is a superlative athlete for his position, which he showed off as a fullback in high school. His first-step explosiveness and overall movement abilities are sensational and it's clear that he's a player whose motor also runs hot. Capable at the point of attack, Ford has the strength to play opponents to a stalemate and then separate to make plays against the run.
Ford is the second defensive tackle to commit to the Longhorns on Wednesday, joining Lakeland (Fla.) Victory Christian's Chris Nelson, who was set to announce during the afternoon, but had his signing during the morning hours broken by the Longhorn Network. The National Signing Day additions were rare for the Longhorns, a program that has landed only one prospect on NSD in the last decade -- Louisiana defensive end Shiro Davis in 2012, who flipped from home-state LSU.
Texas had suffered from three decommitments at the position during a matter of hours in the middle of January, leaving the Horns scrambling to find bodies at a critical spot that did not have any signees in the 2013 class, either.
As a result, Ford and Nelson are two of the most important signees in the 23-man class for the Longhorns that now ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 14 nationally.