Recruiting process for Baldwin sophomore Ford picks up steam
Penn State coaches James Franklin and Terry Smith recently visited Baldwin.
Earlier that day, Pitt coaches Pat Narduzzi and Rob Harley made a stop.
The attraction was Baldwin sophomore lineman Dorien Ford, who is experiencing the early days of his “big -time” recruiting process.
Ford is a muscular 6-foot-4, 260-pound go-getter. He made a splash at defensive end and jumped into the WPIAL limelight in 2018 as a first-year varsity starter.
The recruiting process is just starting to take off for the cordial 15-year-old.
He has scholarship offers from Toledo, Robert Morris, Howard and Ball State. Others expressing interest include Pitt, Penn State, Michigan State, West Virginia, Bowling Green, Florida and Stanford.
“Dorien is getting a lot of attention and could potentially be a nationally ranked kid,” Baldwin coach Loran Cooley said. “We expect Dorien to be dominant next season. He is a great, unselfish kid that will do whatever it takes to win. We played him at fullback, offensive tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end and linebacker.
“When most kids might complain about positional changes or needs, he never complained and stated, ‘Put me where we can win.’ That’s special in a young sophomore.”
Ford was selected as a Class 5A Allegheny Nine Conference all-star at defensive end last season.
“My recruiting has been going well,” Ford said. “I first started getting recruited this year. I came into the year with a couple schools watching, but then I had a good tape and ended up picking up four offers. That doesn’t mean to stop working. It means to work harder.”
Last fall, Ford ranked among team leaders in tackles, posted 10 tackles for losses and recovered two fumbles.
While he’s big and strong, Ford also relies on intellect.
“I watch the other team’s film and see what their weakness is,” he said. “If they’re slow getting off the ball, I’ll use more speed on my get-offs and get around them. If they’re fast on their feet but slow with their hands, I’ll make sure I shoot my hands faster. But overall, my strength is being stronger than others.”
Ford averaged 7.8 yards per carry on four rushing attempts last season.
“I’ve coached and played with a lot of special players that have played in the NFL,” Cooley said, “and (Ford) could potentially be next. The sky’s the limit for the kid. He is a very good athlete who will play defensive tackle at the next level. He has to continue to work and hone in on his craft.”
The Highlanders finished 4-6 in Class 5A last season and missed the playoffs, but the team believes a solid foundation is in place.
Ford, particularly, has big plans.
“I expect to win our conference, WPIAL and state championships,” Ford said. “This offseason, I’ll be working on my craft, such as hand placement on offensive linemen, my strength and speed, quick get-offs, and getting through double teams.”
Ford, who began playing football at age 8, said competing at the varsity level in 2018 was a rewarding experience.
“I will truly miss some of the senior guys,” Ford said. “They were the building blocks as far as showing we can compete.
“We were good last year. However, teams in our conference were great. So we are working to become great.”
Several of Ford’s teammates also have been receiving Division I recruiting interest, including Mason Stahl (QB), Angelo Priore (RB/LB), Naseer Penn (WR/DB), C.J. Robbins (WR/DB) and Jarren Kelly (WR/DB).
Stahl, Priore, Penn and Kelly will be seniors next fall. Robbins will be a junior.
Ford also is a starter on the basketball team. He provides significant muscle and is a disruptive force on the boards.
Eugene Wilson, Baldwin’s boys basketball coach, believes it is a win-win situation for Ford on his recruiting trail.
“I think it is great for the Baldwin athletic program as a whole. It brings positive and inspirational meaning and feeling to the program,” Wilson said. “Dorien is really elusive for his size. He can move and has nice feet. Not only that, but more importantly, he is coachable.
“He has played AAU basketball and has been playing for sometime now. He did play as a ninth-grader. Dorien fits in well with our system and program. We look forward to the future with him.”
Getting back to football, Ford’s all-time favorite player is no surprise: Penn Hills product Aaron Donald, the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year at defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams.
“(Donald) is a hard-working dude,” Ford said, “and he takes no days off. Also, he is from Pittsburgh.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.