Gundy on Stillwater tight end Josh Ford: ‘Guys like that, can’t find enough of them’

Gundy on Stillwater tight end Josh Ford: ‘Guys like that, can’t find enough of them’

Josh Ford signed with the Cowboys as a 6-foot-6, 252 pound tight end. He brings toughness and physicality to OSU, and can probably eat more eggs than most guys on the team.

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

| Dec 22, 2023, 9:00am CST

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

Dec 22, 2023, 9:00am CST

The Ford family always wanted to live in the country. 

When the Fords found out their home’s location in Stillwater was “just country enough” to legally keep chickens in the backyard, they did. And it’s a good thing; they needed those chickens. 

Josh, the youngest of five kids, was eating a dozen eggs a day for breakfast. 

“He started eating 12 eggs a dadgum day, which I wouldn’t recommend that diet to anybody, ” said Ray Ford, Josh’s dad.

Josh was a big kid as a sophomore in high school. He did everything he could to become a huge kid. Between three-a-day workouts and cooking himself 12-egg omelets, he grew into a punishing presence on the football field. Now, Ford stands 6-foot-6, 252 pounds, and on Wednesday signed to play tight end for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, his dream school.

Dec 18, 2023; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Josh Ford celebrates with his mother, JJ Ford, at a signing day ceremony at Stillwater High School. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Alcala-The Oklahoman

In high school, Ford would eat a dozen eggs for breakfast. It’s a good thing his family was able to raise chickens in their backyard. Ford celebrates with his mother, JJ Ford, at a signing day ceremony at Stillwater High School. (Mitch Alcala/The Oklahoman/USA Today Network)

Ford got the offer after he won the 2022 6A-II State Championship with Stillwater High School, and never wavered with where he wanted to go.

“It was probably the best two days back-to-back that I could have had out of that whole year,” Ford said.

Ford always gravitated toward football. His dad played defensive line at Baylor, his uncle tight end for TCU and his grandfather at SMU, but Ray said he didn’t want to force football on his son — he would have been fine if he just played an instrument. 

When the Fords moved to Stillwater from Texas, Josh got his first real taste of the college environment at an OSU spring game. The lights and sounds of Boone Pickens Stadium overwhelmed him. 

“I kind of gave him the nod like it was OK to go ahead and he just started running out into the stadium,” Ray said. “He just couldn’t wait to just take it all in.”

It was clear Josh liked football’s physical nature — even before it was supposed to get real physical. 

“We knew in flag football he preferred the contact because he just didn’t have a lot of side-to-side action and we were worried he just wanted to plow over people,” Ray said. “We kind of were apologetic to the other teams or other parents. He wasn’t getting the concept that it was supposed to be a touch game.”

In high school, Ford stuck to a disciplined routine of working out three times a day: before school, at practice and after school. His morning egg omelets became legendary among his teammates. 

His diligence paid off when he grew six inches his sophomore year.

“He just kept growing and he did the right things with nutrition,” Stillwater coach Chad Cawood said. “We talk about that, eat, sleep and hydrate. It’s all crucial to your development and growth as an athlete. He took that to heart.”

Toughness defined perhaps the most impactful moments of Ford’s career: blocking in the final drive of the 2022 state championship game against Choctaw that led to Stillwater’s first gold ball in 55 years.

Ford was battling a serious hamstring injury he’d picked up the previous week against Deer Creek. With the blessing of a doctor and his parents, he made a late decision to dress for the championship, but it was up to Cawood to know when to play him. Cawood didn’t have a set plan, he just knew when the time would be. 

When Choctaw scored late in the fourth quarter, cutting the Stillwater lead to 26-21, the Pioneers needed to run out the clock. Cawood knew it was time. He looked at the exercise bike on the sideline and found Ford, asking him if he could go in. Ford said he could.

OSU coach Mike Gundy was at Chad Richison Stadium that day, watching his son Gage quarterback the Pioneers. Seeing Ford enter the game knowing the injury he was dealing with still sticks with him. 

“He came in and played seven plays in a row on that drive to run the clock out against Choctaw a year ago,” Gundy recounted. “And they ran behind him five times and they ended up getting about 65 yards rushing and ran the clock out, essentially won the game. And he did that with an injury that he shouldn’t have been on the field for six months.”

The day after the game, Ford got a call from OSU’s tight ends coach Jason McEndoo, who offered him a scholarship. OSU didn’t care he’d gotten hurt, it had seen enough. 

Cowboy fans don’t need to worry about Ford’s diet or hamstring, he’s cut back on eggs and is fully healed from his 2022 injury. But they should know what he’s pushed his body through to play college football at OSU.

“That decision (to offer Ford) had already been made based on his physicality, his toughness, his love for football,” Gundy said. “Guys like that, can’t find enough of them.”

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Ben Hutchens and his twin brother Sam cover Oklahoma State for the Sellout Crowd. After a decade of living in the state, Ben finally feels justified in calling himself an Oklahoman. You can reach him at [email protected] and continue the dialogue @Ben_ Hutchens_ on social media.

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