The first of what could be several big summer football signings of FCIAC players started last week in Westport, with Staples senior lineman Jackson Ward, who gave a verbal commitment on Saturday to play at Harvard.
The news was first reported on Twitter Monday night by the account of WWPT, Staples’ student-run radio station.
Ward, a 6-3, 285-pound center and defensive tackle for the Wreckers, said he will play on the interior offensive line for Harvard.
Ward selected the Crimson over several other Ivy League and Patriot League schools, finalizing his decision after attending the school’s football camp two weeks ago.
“I love the Boston area and I have family up there,” Ward said. “I really liked the coaches. They seemed like really good guys and I can see myself playing for them.”
Ward will become the first Wrecker to play for Harvard since Marce Petroccio took over as coach 22 years ago.
“He worked extremely hard in the offseason,” Petroccio said. “Not only getting stronger and faster but in the classroom as well. We’re very proud of his accomplishment. It is well deserved.”
Ward said he was hoping to finalize his choice before a senior season in which the Wreckers are expected to be competitors for the conference title, with a strong returning nucleus.
“I definitely wanted to get it done before the season started and focus on the team,” Ward said. “We want to try and win the FCIAC championship and I want to be the best teammate I can be. I’m excited to get it done.”
Petroccio said he was pleased Ward was able to make a commitment before training camp opens in August.
“What got him over the hump is he was very impressive in these camps,” Petroccio said. “He had a bunch of offers and he chose Harvard, which is going to be great for him football-wise. And academically I don’t think you can get a better place than Harvard.”
Ward’s older brother, Nick, is about to begin his sophomore year as a lineman at Trinity College.
When Ward arrives at Harvard, he will join Alex LaPolice, the star receiver/defensive back from New Canaan who will begin his freshman year there in the fall.
There could be another major FCIAC offensive line signing later in the summer. New Canaan’s Lucas Niang is one of the country’s most coveted offensive tackles and may commit before the season starts.
“This is just an incredible opportunity and I’m proud to be a part of Harvard,” Ward said. “You get the best of both worlds. Now I can focus on this season. I think we’re going to be really good this year.”