Ball Ready to Show What He Can Do
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Warren Ball remembers where he was sitting when he heard the news.
The Buckeyes had just lost their regular-season finale at Michigan and Ball’s future school was staggering in the midst of one of the most chaotic years in the program’s rich and illustrious history.
Uncertainty hung in the air like a thick fog, as Ball waited anxiously to hear who he would be playing for over the next four years. If it wasn’t going to be Jim Tressel, the man who initially recruited him out of Columbus DeSales, Ball couldn’t have been happier with Ohio State’s choice of a replacement.
“We were watching the television the day they announced it on ESPN and it was amazing,” he said.
“We had a feeling it might happen, and we were hoping, but to actually see them announce it was incredible.”
Ball is a product of the same high school that produced Ohio State’s interim head coach, Luke Fickell, nearly 20 years ago. He would have loved to see Fickell get the full-time gig in Columbus, but the 6-2, 200-pound tailback had already made up his mind long before Urban Meyer was tabbed as the 24th head coach in school history.
“Ohio State was a dream of mine since I was a young child,” Ball said.
“I’ve always been a Buckeye fan and I knew that no matter what happens, Ohio State will always be Ohio State. It’s bigger than one guy, so it’s the place where I wanted to be.”
An early commit to Ohio State back in Sept., 2010, Ball was one of the top backs in the state of Ohio this past season. He earned a spot in Friday’s North-South All-Star Classic at Ohio Stadium, but Ball isn’t satisfied just playing in the game.
It might be an all-star game against one of his future Ohio State teammates—Glenville safety Devan Bogard will play for the North Team Friday afternoon—but Ball wants to finish his high school career in Ohio on a high note.
“It will be my first time playing in the ‘Shoe,” he said.
“I’ve been to several games, but I have never had a chance to play in the ‘Shoe. To be able to feel that atmosphere, play in the stadium, and hopefully be able to score a touchdown. That would be amazing.”
Though he was highly recruited, and eventually ended up signing with Ohio State, there have been plenty of questions about Ball’s game over the past year. He is a violent runner who loves to use his strength against defenders in the open field.
He has excellent body control and good quickness for a back his size, but Ball prides himself on toughness, which he knows to be something Meyer is looking for in his tailbacks at Ohio State.
“It’s a passion. I’m going to fight for every yard, whether it’s a first down or getting to the end zone,” he said.
“I can use power and also speed. Whatever the team needs, but I’m the type of runner who is going to fight for every yard.”
One of the hardest things for Ball to deal with in high school was a pair of injuries that not only put him on the sideline for some critical games, but also caused scouts to question his durability and toughness as a ball-carrier.
“I’ve played football for nine years and never had an injury until my sophomore year,” he pointed out.
“I had a torn groin that year and then my junior year it was a high ankle sprain. I couldn’t put pressure on it, but it was freak things. It’s the game of football, so things happen. I had a healthy senior season and should be healthy going forward.”
While Ball is preparing for tonight’s high school all-star game the Horseshoe, classmate Bri’onte Dunn is getting ready for his first spring game at Ohio State. The Canton GlenOak back enrolled early and has worked his way into the backfield rotation this spring.
Meyer said he expects Dunn to be a contributor on the offense for Ohio State this fall, but Ball isn’t worried that he might be too far behind to make his mark as a youngster in Meyer’s spread attack.
“What I bring to the table is versatility,” Ball said.
“With my power and speed, I think I fit well in the spread offense, so I’m excited.”
He is also anxious to show everyone what he is capable of as a running back. It might seem like Ball is the forgotten man in Ohio State’s 2012 class, especially with Dunn already in the mix, but he isn’t going to let that stop him from impressing the OSU coaches once he does get on campus this summer.
“I think it will all work itself out,” he said calmly and confidently.
“We’ll be in the same system, and he might have a little bit of a jump on the playbook, but once we’re down there it’s all fair game. We’re going to compete and the best will play, so I’m excited.”
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