CORNELIUS Hough High running back Bishop Ford is 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds. Hes always been small and has always heard he was too small to be a big-time football player.
Ford says it has made him even more determined to succeed on the field.
Last Thursday at Memorial Stadium, Ford started his first game at Hough after transferring in February from Gastonias Forestview High. He rushed 20 times for 196 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-20 win against Sun Valley. A collection of the states top high school football Internet bloggers attended the game, along with six TV crews, the Carolinas largest newspaper and a radio station.
Ford picked the perfect occasion to introduce himself to the areas high school community.
I have a chip on my shoulder, he said. Ive got to show everybody, every day, that I can play.
The size issue has always been with him. Ford remembers in Pop Warner, when it was time for kids to move to seventh grade and play on the middle-school team, his coach asked him to remain behind. He thought Ford was too small .
I told the coach, Im good, Ford remembers. I told him, Im going to fight for a starting spot. I ended up starting as a seventh-grader.
By high school at Forestview, Ford was beginning to make a name for himself. He led the team in rushing as a sophomore, getting 149 carries for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns. He had more than 800 yards on Forestviews second-leading rusher.
His junior year started with much promise, as he rushed 60 times for 544 yards and four touchdowns in five games before a controversy ended his season.
In September 2013, Ford and a Forestview senior were charged with misdemeanors over accusations of selling sneakers. Ford was arrested at school and accused of taking a pair of Nikes Kevin Durant shoes from a student.
Ford said he bought the shoes for $75 and sold them for the same amount. Possession of stolen goods and misdemeanor larceny charges were dismissed last fall.
But he never played again at Forestview. His father, Greg Ford, said he worked hard to get his son reinstated, but said he got nowhere with school administration. Forestview Principal Chad Carper did not return calls from the Observer.
Forestview coach Chris Medlin spoke about Ford in an interview with the Observer, saying he believes Ford can play major-college football, but declined to speak about details surrounding the arrest.
Missing football was hard for Ford, especially as Forestview (10-5) made a run to the N.C. 3A Western Regional championship game.
I thought about a lot of stuff during that time, Ford said, like football could be done with me. I thought I wouldnt play again.
Ford said he felt ostracized at school.
It made me feel like nothing, he said.
By February, when Ford prepared to play for Forestviews baseball team, his father decided it was time to move him. Greg Ford has family in Dillon, S.C., and thought about sending his son there, but ultimately decided on Charlotte. He looked at a few private schools but chose Hough because he was impressed with the returning roster, the facilities and the schools academic reputation. He moved his family into the Hough district. Bishop played center field on a Hough baseball team that finished 21-7.
Bishops heart is at Forestview, Greg Ford said. But it was totally my decision to move him, to place him in the best situation. It was all about being in the right position and right place to be noticed.
First-year Hough football coach Miles Aldridge noticed immediately. He saw Ford in offseason workouts and thought he had a player with serious potential.
He was impressive, as much as you can tell in shorts and in the weight room, Aldridge said. We practiced eventually and my opinion kept getting higher and higher. He proved himself (against Sun Valley). I wasnt surprised. I didnt know he would have 196 yards. I wouldve been happy with 100. But we have high expectations for him as a running back.
Ford can bench press more than 300 pounds and can make quick cuts to dodge defenders and turn on 4.3-second 40-yard dash speed to run by them. So far, he has offers from Newberry and Winston-Salem State, a pair of NCAA Division II schools.
But he still is fueled by the belief that there are those who dont think hes big enough to be a big-time player.
I think (recruiters) werent seeing me in Gastonia, he said. I was here for two weeks and had (college) coaches pulling me out of class and talking to me. I hadnt played a game yet. That makes me feel good. But I know I still have to prove myself.
I know what people say. Hes good but hes little. I knew I could do stuff like I did last week and I know I can do more. Im just ready to show everybody.
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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