During his young life, Utah center Nick Ford has dealt with profound loss.
The 6-foot-5, 317-pounder from San Pedro, California, has experienced the deaths of a number of people close to him, including his brother.
At Utah, two of his teammates, Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe, died within a year of each other.
“I didn’t grow up with the easiest life. I lost a lot of people in my life, both friends and family. I kind of take it with a grain of salt,” Ford said. “One of the bad parts about growing up in L.A., it’s something you’re exposed to very early.
“With my brother passing away, it’s something I’m used to at 21, going on 22 when I should be 50, going on 51. It sucked the day of. It was kind of bad the next day. Then after that, I reset. You have to have your appropriate time to mourn and then you have to have your time to lock in as well.”
Now, Ford is looking forward to hearing his name called during the NFL draft and securing an opportunity to play at the next level.
“I’m happy. It’s been a long road for sure,” Ford said. “I made a promise to my brother way back when and everything’s coming to fruition. I’m blessed to be able to say that.”
His brother’s memory continues to motivate him.
“When times get tough, it’s a fire like no other. It’s something that I’ve been through and it hurt a lot. You can use that pain to either fuel you or it will kill you,” he said. “Same thing with Ty and ALowe. We use that to fuel us to a Pac-12 (championship). I’ve been using my brother to fuel me to be a better man, a better athlete, a better person.”
Ford helped lead the Utes to their first Pac-12 championship in 2021. During his career at Utah, the versatile Ford played all five positions on the offensive line.
Utah offensive line coach Jim Harding said Ford is one of the most talented linemen he’s ever coached.
“In terms of football IQ, I could probably think of one other guy that’s on par with him. I say this jokingly but it’s to the point of being annoying. He knows so much. If I misspeak, he has no problem correcting me,” Harding said of Ford. “He’s like another coach on the field. I do believe that he’s suited better for being an inside player but it’s nice to have the luxury of him bouncing outside if we run into injuries or performance issues. But he’s been a huge asset for us through the years.”
What does Ford bring to an NFL team?
“I’m just a good person. Whether I’m a starter or not, that’s my goal is to be the best I can be,” Ford said. “I give them the promise that if I’m not starting, whoever is in front of me is going to the Pro Bowl.”