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Running back built tough

Just one day after coach Jim Leavitt said prized recruit Mike Ford was “only a high school running back,” Ford made an early impression on his new teammates.

During a routine running drill, Ford crashed through the offensive line and accidentally barreled over a teammate.

“I did it, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I kind of gave him a forearm,” Ford said. “So he started saying, ‘It’s like that Ford, it’s like that,’ and I said, ‘No you don’t understand, I didn’t mean to,’ and we just started laughing.”

Ford, who rushed for 2,836 yards at Sarasota High School in 2004, was a five-star recruit according to when he joined Alabama in 2005. After failing to qualify academically, Ford enrolled at Hargrave Military Academy for one year.

Since he went into military school, Ford still has four years of NCAA eligibility. He said playing college football was one of his childhood goals.

“College isn’t meant for everybody, but I feel privileged to be here,” Ford said. “Learning here is the next step to get into the league.”

After his second day of college practice, Ford was taken back by Leavitt’s participation. Along with his regular coaching duties, Leavitt can be seen running drills with the team.

“He’s the first coach that ever really did something like that with us,” Ford said. “Even though we’re tired, he’s still going … but it’s amazing to see him still up like that. He’s running like he’s one of us.”Replacing Randolph: The Bulls are still looking for a punt returner to replace Ean Randolph. Last season, Randolph led the Bulls with 25 returns for 370 yards and a touchdown.

The Bulls Spring Prospectus lists receivers Taurus Johnson and Colby Erskin as the two top kick returners and Erskin and Marcus Edwards as punt returners.

According to Leavitt, receiver Amarri Jackson may be the Bulls’ primary returner next season.

“If Amarri Jackson is focused, he can be outstanding,” Leavitt said. “I trust Amarri, Erskin, Marcus (Edwards) and Jessie Hester. All can do it, they are all capable and all can get some yards.”