Then the three were selected to play in the GACA North/South on All-Star Classic on Dec. 30. Barden and Ford connected for a touchdown, but after the game, the three once again thought they would never put on the same uniform together as Barden and Quattlebaum were committed to UNC-Charlotte and Ford to Kansas State.
That all changed Monday when Ford announced he had changed his commitment from the Wildcats to the 49ers and would be joining Barden and Quattlebaum in Charlotte in the fall.
“I just always had a dream of playing with my teammates and my quarterback,” Ford said. “The distance is better for me and my family. It’s what’s best for me and I think I can excel anywhere.”
The three Purple Hurricanes have enjoyed success on the football field together and believe they can continue that success at the next level.
Barden and Ford have connected over 60 times in the last two seasons as Ford recorded more than 600 yards receiving in 2013 and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch.
His chemistry with his quarterback was apparent, especially on deep balls down the sideline which helped account for Ford’s eight touchdowns on the year. Those numbers are coming off a 2012 season where Ford caught 10 touchdowns for 556 yards from Barden.
For his efforts, Ford was named a first-team all-region receiver.
Quattlebaum also has accumulated more than 1,000 career receiving yards on Barden passes.
“We didn’t think he was going to go [to UNC-Charlotte],” Quattlebaum said of Ford. “I was just asking what were his reasons for going to Kansas State and he’s just like, ‘It’s a big college and you get more exposure,’ and we were just trying to tell him, ‘No matter where you go, if you’re going to be a big time player, you are going to get exposure no matter what.’”
One of the reasons Ford changed his commitment, which he made in September, was to be closer to home. Ford said the drive from Cartersville to Charlotte, N.C. is about 10 hours less than from Cartersville, to Manhattan, Kan.
Quattlebaum, Barden and Ford all plan on rooming together when they get on campus. Barden is already in Charlotte after graduating Cartersville High in December.
After a 64-year absence of the football program, UNC-Charlotte finished 5-6 in its first season since 1948. The 49ers averaged over 33 points per game this year and their spread offense is similar to what Ford, Barden and Quattlebaum ran at Cartersville.
UNC-Charlotte’s program will join Conference USA in 2015. Ford wants to, like Barden, redshirt his first year to be eligible by the time the 49ers make the move to their new conference.
“Charlotte is blowing up and they’re going to get exposure too going into Conference USA,” Quattlebaum said. “I’m pretty happy that me, Brooks and T.L. get to play together for another four years and just the chemistry, being roommates is going to be pretty cool.”
All in all, Ford is pleased with his decision and to continue his career with his friends and teammates.
“It was hard in the beginning, but I think, when it came down to it, it got easier,” Ford said of his decision to switch his commitment. “I just kind of went with my heart, and at the last minute, I just felt it was best for me. I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun four or five years together.”