CRESTVIEW — Denzel Ware’s on-again, off-again football recruiting process seems to be drawing to a close.
Ware, a rising senior and three-year starter on the Crestview High School football and basketball teams, has been full of surprises in recent months.
Last winter he committed to play football at Florida State, but shortly after the commitment, he withdrew from school and went to his childhood home in Opp, Ala.
Shortly after arriving in Opp, he committed to play at the University of Kentucky.
By the time the school year ended last month, Ware had re-enrolled at Crestview and withdrew commitment to Kentucky. Then, on a recent visit to the Kentucky campus, Ware again committed to the Wildcats — and he said this time, the commitment is sticking.
“I was going to stay with the first commitment, but that was without checking it (Kentucky) out,” he said. “I was going to wait and go up there to check out the campus and meet the coaching staff, as I did with Florida State.
“I went up there in June, and I always had a great deal of respect for coach (Mark) Stoops (former Florida State defensive coordinator).
So after going up and checking it out at a camp and seeing the Commonwealth (Stadium) and all that, I had my mind set ... I wanted to play there after meeting other top commit players from Ohio.”
Almost every scouting service agrees that Ware is one of the better weakside defensive end prospects in the Class of 2014.
Recruiting website 247 Sports ranks the 6-foot-3, 220-pound athlete as the 47th best prospect in the country, the fourth best weakside defensive end and Florida’s eighth best player.
However, “I don’t get caught up in that star stuff too much,” he said. “A lot of them have me as a threestar, but ESPN has me as a four-star and No. 8 in the ESPN (among weakside defensive ends). 247 has me as a four-star.
“All I have to focus on is trying to win a state championship at Crestview High School and a national championship at the next level.”
Ware, who said the Wildcats will play a four-man defensive front, said he is being recruited primarily to play defensive end. He also has been told there are certain defensive schemes where he will see action at outside linebacker.
“I’ll be multiple moving from spot to spot,” he said. “I may be at end one play, and then I’ll drop back in coverage the next play. I really don’t know what plans they have on how they are going to use me.
“I just know right now, from the camps they had me work with the outside backers ... they had me as a pass rushing defensive end. I know I’ll probably be a third-down guy with my hands down going to the quarterback.”
Ware said his basketball background would help him at linebacker when he must rotate his hips quickly to change direction and defend on pass player or get in position to tackle.
Ware’s Opp experiment only lasted a few months before he realized he needed to be back in Crestview.
“I was born and raised in Opp, but it’s just the relationships I built with my team and the love that I have here,” he said about why he returned. “I started (high school) here with these boys, and I might as well finish out here with these boys.
“The Opp boys can’t replace the guys I have here in Crestview.”
It hasn’t taken Ware long to warm to new Bulldog coach Tim Hatten.
“I like him (Hatten) better than (former Crestview) coach (Kevin) Pettis,” he said. “He’s a nice guy. He’s won championships on the next level, and he knows how to get it done.
“Most people only come to Crestview with goals of getting people into college, but he wants to win. He has brought that winning attitude into our minds, and now is the time to prove he’s the best thing to come to Crestview.”
Contact News Bulletin Sports Editor Randy Dickson at 682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BigRandle.