Texas Tech Footabll: Running back Da’Leon Ward arrested for theft

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 29: Da'Leon Ward /

The Texas Tech football program faces an uncertain future at running back following the arrest of potential starter Da’Leon Ward.

As if the Texas Tech football team did not have enough questions to answer about the 2018 offense, the coaching staff must now decide how to proceed at the running back position following the arrest of potential starter Da’Leon Ward.

Ward was arrested Tuesday on charges of theft of property between $2,500 to $3,000 in value.  Lubbock news outlet Fox 34 reports that Ward is being accused of settling cell phones at the student recreation center on campus.

This is a troubling development from a player already seemingly on thin ice entering 2018.

The redshirt sophomore was forced to sit out last season by the coaching staff to focus on academics and off the field maturation.  This spring, Ward made a favorable impression both on and off the field and had worked his way not only back on to the roster but into a potential starting role.

But as details of the incident come to light, they do not bode well for the idea that Ward’s year off was effective in helping him become a more reliable member of the Texas Tech community.  Don Williams of the “Lubbock Avalanche-Journal” reports that the incident took place in November of last year while he was still serving his Kingsbury-imposed suspension.

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Regardless of whether he was going to be the named starter, Ward was expected to figure prominently into the Texas Tech offensive game plan this season splitting carries with senior Tre King who emerged as a viable lead back over the final five games of the 2017 season.

If Ward is not part of the 2018 offense, two true freshmen could be the beneficiaries.  2018 high school signees Ta’Zhawn Henry (a 3-star prospect from Houston) and Sarodorick Thompson (a 2-star signee from Irving) were already expected to play this fall but now, both could be looking at increased roles.

Henry, a five-foot-seven back, is explosive with the ball in his hands and could help bring to the offense elements of speed similar to what 2017 senior Justin Stockton provided.  Meanwhile, the larger Thompson could be more of a work-horse and his 200-pound frame could serve the Red Raiders well in short yardage and goal line situations.

Also standing to gain from a potential shake-up to the running back rotation could be senior Demarcus Felton.   After falling to fourth on the depth chart last season, Felton announced his intentions to leave the program in May but decided shortly thereafter to return to the Red Raiders.

Felton has put up only 529 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons but his presence on the team could be a life-saver this season as a veteran backup to King, especially if Ward misses any time after this latest indiscretion.  Felton could also be counted upon if either of the two freshmen struggle to pick up the nuances of the offense such as blocking schemes.

It is interesting to note that Ward was indicted in June which would lead one to believe that Tuesday’s news comes as no shock to Kliff Kingsbury and the coaching staff.  Thus, the fact that Ward has been practicing with the team for the entirety of fall camp and that Kingsbury has continued to talk about Ward in positive terms might suggest that he still has a future with the team.

At this time, the Texas Tech football program has released no official word on Ward’s status.  Texas Tech did release a statement today saying that it was aware of the situation and was looking into the matter.

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Regardless of what eventually transpires, this news is far from optimal with the season less than two weeks away.  But if nothing else, it adds yet another bit of intrigue to a fall camp that has been unlike any we have seen in quite some time.