NIU captured its first MAC football championship since 1983, defeating Ohio, 23-20
Finished his NIU career with 320 career tackles and 189 solo stops, six tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, 37 passes defended and 11 interceptions. Ranks fourth all-time at NIU in pass break-ups and is tied for ninth in interceptions. Extremely consistent player made at least one tackle in every game he played during his Huskie career. Only missed one game in four seasons. Also holds school record for blocked punts, which he set as a freshman, and has four career punt blocks. Scored two career touchdowns, one on a blocked punt return and the other on an interception return.
2013: Named first team All-American by USA Today and SI.com and was a third-team selection by the Associated Press and Athlon. First NIU defender ever to garner first team All-America honors. A semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. First team All-MAC selection for the second time. Impressed at the 2014 Senior Bowl practices. Led NIU in tackles with 95, including 62 solo stops. Also tops against the pass with 17 passes defended, including seven interceptions and 10 break-ups. His seven interceptions tied for the third most in a season ever at NIU and ranked seventh in the country and first in the MAC. His 102 interception return yards rank sixth on the NIU single-season list. Forced a fumble, recovered another and had 2.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback sack. Recorded at least three tackles in 13 of 14 games and had at least one pass defended in 11 contests. Had a string of four straight games with an INT (EIU through Akron). Set up the game-winning field goal in the season opener at Iowa (8-31) by making an interception with 1:24 to play and the game tied at 27. Made the play with a cast on his left hand. Added a team-high 13 tackles at Iowa. Recorded a team-leading 12 tackles in the MAC Championship game (12-6) and forced a fumble. Made a team-high nine tackles and recorded his first career interception return touchdown with a 62-yard score at Purdue (9-28). Tallied three solo stops and a career-high three pass break ups versus Western Michigan (11-26). Made a highlight reel interception that garnered ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 status, and 10 tackles at Toledo (11-20). Tallied three solo tackles and added a quarterback sack at UMass (11-2). Accounted for seven tackles, including a tackle for loss, with a fumble recovery and an INT at Kent State (10-5) while spending much of the game covering speedy receiver Dri Archer. Recorded four tackles and his fifth interception of the season versus Akron (10-12). Credited with nine stops at Idaho (9-14). Tallied eight tackles, seven solo, and an interception against Eastern Illinois (9-21). Made five tackles and broke up a pass at Central Michigan (10-19). Tallied six stops versus Utah State (12-26) in the Poinsettia Bowl. Also returned an interception 14 yards and had a pair of pass break ups.
2012: Named first team All Mid-American Conference by league coaches and Phil Steele. Led NIU with 104 tackles, 65 solo, and three interceptions while starting 13 games at safety. Finished 16th in the MAC and 85th nationally in tackles. Ranked fifth in the conference and 52nd in the nation in solo tackles. Paced the Huskie defense with a career-high 14 tackles in the Orange Bowl against Florida State (1-1). Made 11 stops and picked off a pass versus Toledo (11-14). Ranked second on the team with 11 pass break-ups. Named NIU Defensive Skill Player of the Week following the UT Martin (9-8), Central Michigan (9-29), Ball State (10-6) and Toledo (11-14) games. Recorded double-digit tackles in seven of the 13 games he played. Made 52 tackles in the month of September alone. Named MAC West Defensive Player of the Week with 10 tackles, two pass break-ups and an interception vs. UT Martin (9-8). Tallied 11 tackles against Toledo (11-14), in addition to forcing a fumble. Intercepted a Rocket pass in UT territory to set up NIU's first touchdown. Led the NIU secondary with six tackles against Kent State (11-30) in the MAC Championship and added a pass break-up. Broke up two passes at Akron (10-20). Posted his third 12-tackle game of the year at Ball State (10-6) and grabbed his second interception of the season. Tied his season high with 12 tackles, eight solo, vs. Central Michigan (9-29). Totaled six solo tackles versus Kansas (9-22). NIU's leading tackler vs. Iowa (9-1) with 12 tackles and two pass break-ups. Sat out the UMass (11-3) game due to injury.
2011: Earned second team All Mid-American Conference honors from league coaches. Saw action in all 14 games and started 12 at defensive back. Ranked second on the team with a career-high 100 tackles and 48 solo stops. Recorded at least five tackles in 12 games. Registered one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, an interception, four pass breakups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. Had at least two tackles in every game. Had double-digit tackles at Kansas (9-10), Wisconsin (9-17) and Toledo (11-1). Made his first career interception in the second half of the MAC Championship game versus Ohio (12-2) to spur NIU's comeback. Added six tackles, four solo, in the conference title tilt. Had seven tackles versus Arkansas State (1-8) in his hometown at the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Credited with eight tackles, half a tackle for loss and a pass breakup against Eastern Michigan (11-25). Led the Huskie defense with a career-high 13 stops at Toledo (11-1). Forced a fumble that led to NIU's first points of the game and made five tackles at Buffalo (10-22). Second on the Huskie defense with nine tackles versus Western Michigan (10-15). Posted four tackles at Central Michigan (10-1) to earn Defensive Skill Player of the Week nod. Led NIU with 11 total tackles, six solo, against Wisconsin (9-17). Tied for the team lead with 10 total tackles and broke up a pass at Kansas (9-10). Blocked an Army (9-3) punt that was returned for NIU's first touchdown. Made seven tackles and recorded his first career sack in the opener. Named NIU Special Teams Player of the Week following the Army game.
2010: Played in all 14 games as a true freshman and blocked a school-record three punts on the year. Saw extensive action on special teams and as a back-up free safety. Named NIU's 2010 Special Teams Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Also credited with 21 tackles, 14 solo, a forced fumble and a pass break up. Totaled 37 yards and a touchdown on two punt returns off of blocked punts. Earned MAC West Special Teams Player of the Week honors after blocking a punt, which led to a go-ahead touchdown for the Huskies at Minnesota (9-25). Also recorded three solo tackles in that game. Tallied a career-high five tackles, three solo, at Akron (10-2). Named MAC West Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time after blocking a punt, his second of the season, against Buffalo (10-16). Also credited with forcing a fumble in that game. Blocked his third punt of 2010 a week later and added two tackles versus Central Michigan (10-23). Broke up a pass and made a pair of stops versus Toledo (11-9). Scored his first career touchdown by scooping up a blocked punt and returning it 15 yards for a score against Ball State (11-20). Added three tackles against the Cardinals. Tallied four tackles, three solo, in extensive action against Eastern Michigan (11-26).
High School: Honorable mention 6A All-State defensive back by the Alabama Sportswriters Association as a senior. Mobile Press Register named him to its All-Region 4A-6A team following his junior and senior years. Three-year starter for Davidson served as team captain in 2009. Earned team Defensive MVP honors. Led the Warriors in tackles as a senior with 101 tackles, 73 solo, as Davidson went 10-3 and advanced to the state quarterfinals. Also recorded eight pass break-ups, an interception, forced two fumbles and recovered three. Added three blocked kicks and three quarterback sacks. Named the city's Defensive Back of the Week by the Crichton Optimist Club on Sept. 24. As a junior, made 93 tackles with 55 solo, broke up seven passes and intercepted five. Also caused a pair of fumbles and blocked two kicks. Three-year totals included 253 tackles, 164 solo, with 16 pass break-ups, six interceptions, five blocked kicks, four fumbles forced and four recovered. Also had four quarterback sacks. Defensive standout with seven tackles, a pair of blocked punts and two pass break ups while holding Williamson HS to 131 total yards in a 24-0 victory in 2009. Picked off two passes to help lead the Warriors to an upset win over No. 6 McGill-Toolen in 2008. Prep team compiled a 27-10 record in his three seasons, including an 11-3 mark in 2008 when the Warriors advanced to the state semifinals.
Personal: Born July 18, 1991. Son of Torcivia and Derrick Daniels. Working toward a degree in general studies.
WARD'S CAREER GAME HIGHS
Tackles: 14, vs. Florida State (Orange Bowl), 1-1-13 Blocked Punts: 1, four times, last vs Army, 9-3-11 Touchdowns: 1, twice, last at Purdue (interception return), 9-28-13 PBUs: 2, three times, last at Akron, 10-20-12