For Walker freshman Christian Ard, the future is a wide-open book at this point.
Loads of potential, plenty of promise for whenever he gets the chance to take the reins of the Wildcats’ offense and a nice head start solidified this summer before he actually ascends to the high school level.
The last thing new Walker coach Lester Ricard wants to do is speed the process up, no matter how tempting that might be.
Ard was named to the Football University All-Top Gun Team and earned the overall Leadership Award last week at the prestigious event in South Carolina.
The 6-foot-1, 155-pound 14-year-old was one of only six quarterbacks tabbed on the All-Top Gun team after his team went 4-1.He is also in the running for a spot in the Freshman All-American Bowl, which will played in Naples, Fla., in December.
“I felt like this camp improved my game a whole lot,” said Ard, who went to earlier high-profile camps in Dallas and Houston prior to the Top Gun. “It was the best instruction I’ve ever gotten. They worked with me on how to read coverages and stuff like that.
“The coaches there broke everything down very well. It was great experience. It just brought my confidence level up and showed me what I can accomplish if I work hard enough.”
That part of the process isn’t something Ricard is worried about.
A former three-year high starter at quarterback for Amite before a solid career at Tulane, Ricard said Ard has already established the kind of work ethic that will pay off down the road.
“What he has already accomplished doesn’t surprise me,” Ricard said. “He went through spring football, and this summer he has put in a lot of work with us. We throw with our quarterbacks every day and he is always there asking me for more ways to get better. With Christian, it’s going to come down to how his body develops. There’s no question about his work ethic: He’s going to put work in for sure.”
How quickly that nose-to-the-grindstone approach equates to Ard stepping on the field for Walker remains to be seen.
Besides Ard, Mason St. Pierre and Jordan Adams took snaps in the Wildcats’ spring scrimmage and senior Dalton Moore competed for the starting job last year with Jacobi Scott before a preseason wrist injury limited his playing time early in the year.
One of those three is likely to get the starting nod when Ricard’s debut season begins. While the new coach wants to bring Ard along slowly, he isn’t ruling anything out.
“I call him Bambi because right now he’s like an undeveloped deer,” Ricard said of Ard. “He’s got a long way to go and I’m not going to rush him to play this year. He will get a chance to get into games in the right situations, and if it happens, it happens. It’s more important to me to develop the young man and build him up to the point where he’s completely ready when his time does come.
“Because of what he’s done this summer to prepare, Christian has put himself in a great opportunity to be able to play. But you can get shell-shocked as a freshman playing 5A football, and if don’t have the right amount of success, it can set you back. I want him to always believe in his abilities and I’m excited where he can get in the future.”
That belief is something that figures to come with each step of Ard’s journey, and the Top Gun camp was one of those steps.
Besides tossing three touchdowns, Ard also made enough impact as a leader to earn the nod for the leadership award. Tied into that was the jolt of confidence Ard got.
“There were times when I was working in the spring when I felt like I couldn’t make the right pass,” Ard said.
“Going through the camp helped get my confidence rise up. Right now I feel like I’m a decent dual-threat quarterback, and I know I have a lot of room to get better. But going to the Top Gun really opened my eyes.”
Randy Rosetta is Sports Editor of The Livingston Parish News.
You can reach him at (225) 610.5507 or RandyR@LivingstonParishNews.com.
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