Ball impressing IU coaches during first few months on campus #iufb

Hoosier defensive lineman Brandon Wilson (left) has a little fun with his teammates, while freshman Marcelino Ball (right, 42) looks on during IU's media day photoshoot on Aug. 3. (Chris Howell | Herald-Times)
Hoosier defensive lineman Brandon Wilson (left) has a little fun with his teammates, while freshman Marcelino Ball (right, 42) looks on during IU’s media day photoshoot on Aug. 3. (Chris Howell | Herald-Times)

Noah Joseph thought he was hosting a small dinner party.

It turned out to be an impromptu strategy session, courtesy of Marcelino Ball.

Joseph, Indiana’s safeties coach, invited Ball and fellow freshmen defensive backs Khalil Bryant and A’Shon Riggins to his Bloomington home to meet his family and enjoy a homecooked meal on one of their first nights in town this summer. From somewhere inside Joseph’s home, Ball found a toy chalkboard that belonged to the coach’s two young daughters and began drawing up football plays for himself and his new teammates.

“That’s just how he’s wired,” Joseph said.

And it’s a big reason why the 17-year-old Georgia native is off to a fast start with his new football program. Viewed as a Husky prospect in defensive coordinator Tom Allen’s new 4-2-5 alignment, Ball has impressed IU’s coaching staff with his aptitude and will to compete.

Just trace his pedigree as the younger brother in an impressive football family tree.

Reggie Ball played quarterback at Georgia Tech from 2003 to 2006, beginning his career by earning Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year honors. Raeshon Ball played corner at Chattanooga from 2006 to 2008 and Marcus Ball played at Memphis and is now a safety for the Carolina Panthers. His father, Reggie Ball Sr., is a high school coach in the Atlanta area.

From Allen’s view, Ball arrived on IU’s campus this summer carrying the expectation that he would be the next college football standout produced by his family.

“He didn’t come here to redshirt,” Allen said. “He came here, from Day 1, to play.”

Allen had only been in his new position at IU for two weeks before February’s signing day, but made Ball a last-minute priority in the Hoosiers’ 2016 signing class. Allen spent an hour on the phone with Ball the night before signing day, convincing Ball that he could thrive as a Husky — essentially a linebacker/safety hybrid — in the 4-2-5.

Ball, previously uncommitted, followed through and signed with Indiana on Feb. 3.

“We weren’t sure what he was gonna do,” Allen said. “We felt like he was a critical piece. We felt that he had the skill set, from watching him in high school, to play that position. It’s obviously true.”

During the last week, IU coaches have repeatedly mentioned that Ball doesn’t look like a 17-year-old, let alone a college freshman. He’s 6-feet and 209 pounds, with toned and muscular arms.

“He’s a guy you want getting off the bus first,” Joseph said.

Already, he’s primed to compete at the Husky spot with redshirt sophomore Zeke Walker and junior Ben Bach. Junior college transfer Jayme Thompson is also expected to be in the mix at the position, but is currently out with turf toe.

And if Ball continues at his current pace, he might be in line to get on the field first, too.

One comment

  1. Ball is the type of recruit IU needs at all positions – someone coming in planning to start right off the bat [there are several in the 2016 class]. He is in a position that will be tough to get on the field but listening to the coaches I wouldn’t bet against him.

    IU has some interesting stories about their players on this year’s team. They are talking about Coy Cronk starting at LT if Brandon Knight doesn’t get back on the field soon. Cronk is a very good athlete that played MLB and also was a great catcher for the baseball team that schools recruited for baseball. Natee and Cole are talked about as players that should see the field this year along with M. Ball. There are a couple of WR in the 2016 class that may end up on the field before the season is over.

    There are many intriguing stories for this team this year. How well these stories work out will determine how well the season goes for this team. If most work out there will be many people surprised how good a season IU had in 2016. If the injury bug crops up IU can weather it better than in the past but it still takes a toll on the team. I am hoping the injury bug has played out heading into this year as we have already lost one WR due to surgery complications. IU needs to catch some breaks this year as we have paid the price over the past few seasons.

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