By Tim Rogers / Special to the Canton Repository / October 18, 2019
Former Massillon Tiger standout shows off versatility and tackling ability as a leader of the Purple Raiders defense.
Football is a do-your-job game.
Mount Union’s Kordell Ford does his job. Or that job. And that job, too.
No matter where he plays — and he has played several spots on the defensive side of the ball — the former Massillon standout delivers.
Is he a safety? A corner? A linebacker? A defensive end?
Mount opponents have been forced to pick their poison.
It could be as a safety, where Ford began his career and has played since he starred for the Massillon Tigers.
It could be as an outside linebacker, the positions known as the ‘spur’ or ‘Leo’ in Purple Raider jargon.
Or, it could be as an upright defensive end, despite his generous listing as being 5-foot-10, 190 pounds.
No matter how it is labeled, Ford has worn the sticker. A jack-of-all trades and a master of all.
Ford, a junior, is Mount Union’s leading tackler heading into Saturday’s Homecoming Game against winless Capital.
Ford’s location on the field depends on the type of defense being used. In the traditional 4-3 alignment, which Mount had in place at the start of the season, he lined up as an upright defensive end alongside Andrew Roesch, Adam Pastor and Nate Brunson.
With the switch to the 3-4 alignment, he has moved to more of a linebacking spot, joining Mitch O’Hara, Nate Fisette and Trey Williams.
All that came after Ford — who doubled as a wide receiver and running back in addition to being a safety in high school — had spent 2018 as a safety and longed to play that spot in 2019. Things change and Ford changed with them.
“I love where I’m at right now,” said Ford, whose 15 solo tackles and eight assists leads the undefeated and nationally-ranked Raiders. “Before the season I wanted to play safety so bad. Now, I have no preference. As long as I’m on the field and contributing I am happy.”
So, too, is coach Vince Kehres.
“We felt we needed to get more speed into the game and have more versatility in what we can do coverage-wise,” said Kehres. “You are a little bit limited in what you can do in the 4-3, coverage-wise. With the 3-4 you have those two outside linebackers. It gives us a little more versatility.”
With Ford off the line of scrimmage the Raiders are able to take advantage of his speed, football instincts and skills.
“Kordell is a good tackler,” said Kehres. “He has good football instincts of being able to anticipate what’s going to occur and being able to react quickly to what he sees. Then, he has the speed and the agility to get there, maybe right before a block is going to occur. He’ll beat the blocker to the spot and make the tackle.”
It also aids in pass coverage.
“He gives us more versatility than a normal linebacker,” Kehres said. “We can use him (in) man-to-man to cover a slot receiver or we can roll him into a deep zone. Both he and Nate (Fisette) started as safeties and both can play the deep half of the field.”
Ford, who considered attending the Naval Academy coming out of Massillon, is coming off one of his best statistical games of the season. He had four solo tackles and three assists in the 63-6 victory at Wilmington.
“At this point the coaches feel they can trust me to play anywhere, whether it be safety, in the box, as a linebacker or even at the D-line as a D-end,” he said.
Ford said his sophomore season was a learning experience.
“My strength, I’m finally starting to realize, is my tackling,” he said. “I can tackle real well and the coaches realize that, too. Last year they put me at middle linebacker and I was completely lost for weeks. Had no idea what was going on. It took me a while to pick up on it, but it’s worked out.”
He has two of the team’s eight sacks and his five tackles behind the line also are a team best.
“I am real confident with how I am playing, with how we are playing as a team right now,” he said. “The coaches have put me where they felt I’d help the most and it has been okay so far.”