As Senior Bowl week winds down, me and the guys here at Breaking Football plan to break down some of our favorite prospects from this year’s Senior Bowl. Plenty of guys have stood out and made themselves some serious coin this week. One of those players is former Arizona State running back, Kalen Ballage.
Ballage actually came into 2017 with a good amount of fanfare. The former Sun Devil measured in at 6’2″ 222-lbs., which is plenty big for his position. Ballage looks like a linebacker up close, and he certainly carries a mean-streak with him to the field.
In the preseason, I had Ballage graded inside my top 64 players. Per my Kalen Ballage scouting report, the Arizona State product impressed me as an inside runner with good vision and an obvious nose for the end-zone. After all, this IS the man who scored eight touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving) against Texas Tech back in 2016, which tied an NCAA record for most touchdowns in a single game.
Where Ballage struggled was as an outside runner, where it was evident he wasn’t fast enough to get to the edge consistently. Ballage also struggled to get the bulk carries that he deserved, as he was stuck in a committee approach with former teammate Demario Richard.
I had a chance to talk to Ballage yesterday after the North practice concluded, and he had this to say about his role with the Sun Devils:
Kalen Ballage I’m splitting carries at #ArizonaState: “Doesn’t bother me at all. I’m a football player. The coaches had a plan and stuck with it. My job is not to coach, or call the plays, or control the playing time.”
— Richard Bradshaw (@RichieBradz36) January 24, 2018
Ballage came across as a very humble, well-grounded, and professional young man in my time with him. He is obviously built like a bull and has looked great in practice all week long. Joining NC State’s Jaylen Samuels and Iowa’s Akrum Wadley on the North team, Ballage has been by far the superior player in Mobile.
Ballage’s stock has drastically risen based off of what he’s displayed as a receiver down here. Ballage looks like a natural pass catcher, something that stood out on the tape watched this summer and in 2017. This kind of impact will get teams’ attention, as versatility is key to being successful at the next level.
While Ballage never received the king’s ransom of carries in his time with the Sun Devils, perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. Ballage will come into the NFL with plenty of tread on his tires and will immediately become a standout in a team’s backfield. With the upside to be an eventual starting running back, Ballage will certainly have a similar role to the one he had at Arizona State at the next level.
Ballage has simply looked like one of the biggest winners this week down in Mobile. While he certainly has draft pundits split on their opinions, this analyst has Ballage in his top ten running backs for the class of 2018. And with what looks to be another strong, deep running back class, Ballage has found a way to stand out. Move aside everyone, make way for the “Ballage Barrage!”