Identify Illinois Spotlight

Identify Illinois is the DIA-branch of Inclusive Illinois, an organization dedicated to the University's commitment to cultivating a community at Illinois where everyone is welcomed, celebrated, and respected. Through education, engagement, and excellence, each voice creates the Inclusive Illinois Experience.

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Jihad Ward

Year: Junior

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA - Attended Edward Bok Vo-Tech High School

 6'6'' 295-pound defensive lineman
 Played junior college football at Globe Tech Junior College in New York
 No. 6 ranked junior college recruit in the nation
 Played wide receiver in high school
 Favorite athlete is NFL star Julius Peppers
 Majors in Recreation, Sport, & Tourism


Q: You grew up in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently featured your path to Illinois in one of their stories. In short, what brought you here?

A: I chose to be in Illini, because I wanted to choose a school I was comfortable being at. I am also getting an excellent degree, while playing at the highest-level athletically in the Big Ten. You don't find that everywhere you go.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a starting defensive lineman for the Illini?

A: My favorite part of being a starting defensive lineman for the Illini is having fun with my teammates on and off the field and getting ready to play our opponents every Saturday. I also get to represent my Fighting Illini team. It truly is a blessing.

Q: What are your plans for time after Illinois?

A: I plan to go to the NFL for several years, and once I'm finished with football, I want to get involved with football. I want to be a college defensive lineman coach in the future. Furthermore, I want to set up a recreation center for the youth back in Philadelphia to help kids that have a similar background as me. My goal is to change children's lives in a positive way and help them get necessary supplies they need for school, while hopefully helping to get them into college.

Q: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

A: Yes I have two little brothers, ages 15 and 11, and two little sisters, ages 19 and 4.

Q: Are there any interesting facts about yourself that Illini Nation might now know?

A: I'm a big kid at heart and love to play around. I am really goofy. I think that everybody who is around me knows that I represent Philly.

Q: What is your favorite meal?

A: My favorite meal would be chicken with collard greens, some corn and macaroni and cheese. I also love Philly cheese steaks.

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