Flash forward four years later and Ford owes his older brother a scholarship.
That is because the all-county Cartersville High School receiver verbally committed Wednesday to play for the Kansas State Wildcats, the reigning Big 12 champions.
“I was a baseball player and a basketball player. I never liked contact so, from the start, I never liked football,” Ford said. “My brother was going to the Navy so he was leaving and he actually convinced me to play my freshman year. He is what started it all. I’m happy I made the decision now. It’s my favorite sport and I love it.”
Ford selected Kansas State over 12 other scholarship offers, including Appalachian State, Charlotte, Chattanooga and Cincinnati.
“They were the first to offer me and I really developed a very good relationship with them,” Ford said of the Kansas State coaching staff. “It has a lot to do with them being a good football program, but they are the best fit for me and I developed the best relationship with them.”
The senior wideout was actually recruited by former NFL wide receiver Andre Coleman, who is now the wide receivers coach at his alma mater.
“[Coleman] knows what he’s talking about,” Ford said. “He likes my size and route running. He said I have the potential to go to the NFL and be a good Division I player as long as I work hard.”
Ford and his quarterback, Brooks Barden, considered playing together. Barden committed earlier this week with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Ford was considering the school as well.
“We were initially thinking about playing together, but we changed our decision on that” Ford said about he and Barden pairing up again.
Ford’s father, Terry, believes that Frank Barden was crucial in the development of his son into a college football player.
“What Cartersville High did is build T.L. up and give him the tools to be successful as a young man and an athlete,” Ford said. “The family support that we’ve had from his uncle to grandparents has been very significant to us in this process and it is important for me not to lose that guidance when he goes to college.
“As a parent, I feel that the [Kansas State] coaching staff is going to hold T.L. to a high standard.”
Ford is very proud of his son and the community of Cartersville.
“It’s such a blessing because not only is it the most prestigious football program and the one that offered him first, but it is also the place where T.L. felt the most comfortable, showed the most interest in him and built the relationship that was necessary for him to commit,” he said. “I’m very pleased and proud of him.”