DURHAM, N.H.-Senior offensive tackle Ryan Ward (Niagara Falls Ontario) of the University of New Hampshire football team has signed on as a free agent with the Chicago Bears.
Ward, one of the biggest linemen in the Atlantic 10 Football Conference at 6-7, 325, was instrumental to the success of a UNH offense that has averaged over 400 yards per game during the last two seasons. In 1999, the Wildcats averaged 457.3 yards per game and the offense compiled 402.8 during the 2000 campaign.
Ward, will also be reunited with Chicago Bear defensive back Jerry Azumah, as he blocked for Azumah when he was a tailback for the Wildcats. Azumah went on to win the Walter Payton Award in 1998 as the top offensive player in I-AA football.
A starter at UNH for three consecutive seasons (1998-2000), Ward was picked 13th overall in the Canadian Football League Draft by the Calgary Stampeders during the 1999 campaign, and he was named a third-team All-Atlantic 10 selection in 1999 and 2000.
Prior to his arrival at UNH, Ward was a city all-star at Westland Secondary School and helped lead the gridders to Zone 3 titles in 1993 and 1994.