August 1, 2011

Breaking down the backs

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The Ohio State coaching staff has been fortunate enough to land early verbal commitments from two of the premier running backs not only in the Midwest, but in the nation. Both Warren Ball and Bri'onte Dunn are rated four-star prospects by and both are considering to be among the very best players in a loaded 2012 class in Ohio. Below, we compare the two outstanding talents and take a look at what each one brings to the table.

Category Breakdown Edge

Size and Power

Both backs tip the scales at well over 200-pounds and both run with tremendous power. Though slightly taller, Dunn runs with the lower pad level of the two which causes defenders to fall off of him if they try and tackle above the waist. In Ball’s case, he runs with an upright style but has a unique ability to get his pads down when he senses contact. Though that style lends itself to taking more punishment, it also deals out more to the opposition as well. Simply put, a high school defensive back’s worst nightmare is finding themselves in the headlights of either of these two bruisers.

Straightline Speed

Both backs have numerous long touchdown runs on their highlight films so neither one is hurting in the speed department. With that being said, Dunn gets a slight edge here. Both backs have great burst and speed through the hole but Dunn flat out runs away from people once he gets into the secondary and doesn’t seem to slow down after the first 20-30 yards. Ball worked hard during the spring on the track and could make the gap even narrower as he continues to work on getting faster.


Another close race as both backs are very light on their feet, especially considering their size. Ball gets the edge here because he has more ‘wiggle’ than Dunn and shows a better ability to maneuver in tight spaces. Dunn has impressive agility for a 215-pound back but overall is more of a one-cut and get up the field back.


Outside of maybe durability, this is the most important category and both players show an outstanding ability to read the play before it fully develops. Ball gets the slight edge here due to his impressive ability to make more than one cut to find the hole and his ability to make two quick moves as opposed to just a single cut. Numerous times on film, you will see Ball give a head or shoulder fake before making a cut to set his defender up. His unique ability to be two moves ahead of the defense instead of one gives him the edge in this category.


Few backs in the nation have been as durable over the last three seasons as Dunn and he gets the clear edge in this category. Dunn carried the ball well over 300 times as a junior against some of the top defenses in the state. On the other hand, Ball has struggled to stay healthy in his first two varsity seasons and has missed time due to injuries. While a large part of injuries is based on luck, Dunn has proven over and over again that he can handle 25-30 carries a game and that he will be in the backfield every week.


When it comes down to it, this is really splitting hairs. Dunn and Ball are ranked number five and seven respectively in our class of 2012 Ohio rankings and there is very little difference between the two. Dunn’s production and durability give him a slight edge overall but if Ball can prove that he can handle 20 carries a game over a full season, that edge will be all but eliminated. At the end of the day, both are outstanding talents and are both early candidates for Mr. Football in Ohio this fall.


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