Like all of our favorite players, Isaiah Ford‘s stats are only a small part of his story.
Oh, the stats are pretty impressive. Ford was Virginia Tech’s top receiver last season as a true freshman, with 56 catches and 709 yards. Ford also had six TD catches, bested only by Bucky Hodges with seven.
Beyond the stats, Ford filled up a highlight reel with amazing catches. I know I’m going to forget one or two, because there were so many.
First, his touchdown catch against ECU:
Then this textbook fingertip, toe-dragging sideline catch at UNC:
Then this gem against Duke:
You get the idea. The guy can play.
But on National Signing Day 2014, in Isaiah’s own words, basketball “actually was my first love.” Roundball played a huge role in his decision, as he “definitely” was going to play basketball wherever he went to college, and he saw himself having a role in James Johnson’s program at Virginia Tech.
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. In May of 2013, Ford, a student at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, committed to play football for Charlie Strong at Louisville. Ford then took a tour of a dozen or so universities in the summer of 2013, and he was particularly impressed with Virginia Tech. “The campus was beautiful. The facilities were beautiful,” he told Chris Horne in a Q&A article later on.
Charley Wiles and then-receivers-coach Aaron Moorehead sold Ford on the playing time he could have at wide receiver at Virginia Tech, and he started to waiver. Ford was honest with Louisville about having second thoughts, and when Strong left Louisville for Texas in January of 2014, things started to happen quickly.
Ford made the decision to go to Virginia Tech instead, and he was prepared to announce it on Signing Day. An hour before he was to attend a press conference with other Trinity Christian athletes who were signing their LOIs, Ford got a call from Florida head coach Will Muschamp, who made a last-minute pitch to come to Florida, in nearby Gainesville. Ford listened, but he had already made his mind up about Virginia Tech, and he declined Florida’s interest and signed with the Hokies. (It helped that Muschamp was unable to get Gators basketball coach Billy Donovan into the loop on such short notice, and Muschamp wound up bowing out, telling Ford “You should just go to Virginia Tech.”)
Nearly every key player in Ford’s commitment is gone from their positions of the time. Strong is at Texas; James Johnson was fired less than two months after Signing Day; and Moorehead left for Texas A&M after coaching Ford at VT in 2014. Ford, intent on playing basketball at Virginia Tech, appears to never have approached Buzz Williams about playing once the 2014 football season ended.
Through the twists and turns, Ford has been a very productive receiver for VT, with his 56 receptions coming in third for most catches in a season at Virginia Tech, behind Jarrett Boykin’s 61 and Danny Coale’s 60, both in 2011. (We all know Coale really had 61 receptions, but that’s a separate article.)
Those are remarkable achievements for a freshman, and Ford’s 2015 should be great, as well. But the real reason Isaiah Ford is one of Our Favorite Players is this National Signing Day All-Access video from February 2014. In the video, Ford’s humility, graciousness, and personality really come through. Set aside 13 minutes and watch it, even if you’ve seen it before.
That is a high-character guy, and he’ll continue to do well at Virginia Tech. Expect to see him on future “Our Favorite Players” lists.
For the full list so far:
Our Favorite Players 2015