August 20, 2011

Breaking down the tape: Warren Ball

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A healthy Warren Ball this season could be bad news for teams around the state of Ohio. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound back is looking to make up for lost time after an injury-plagued junior season and he got off to a great start on Friday night in De Sales' final scrimmage against Upper Arlington. Ball finished the evening with well over 100 yards rushing, including a pair of first half scores that covered 53 and 48 yards respectively.

"First of all there was great blocking upfront," said Ball of his touchdown runs. "The hole just opened up for me and I was able to get into the secondary and make things happen, so just a great job by the offensive line and I really appreciated that."

Ball was facing off with future teammate Frank Epitropoulos and the two both had big games, combining for all four touchdowns that were scored by the varsity teams.

"It's so good to see a fellow commit doing well," Ball said. "He had two touchdowns and I kind of wanted to outdo him a little bit and score another touchdown but he did a great job out there."

Coach's take:

De Sales head coach Ryan Wiggins has coached some great players the last few seasons, sending players to numerous division I programs around the nation such as Air Force, Michigan, Northwestern, and Ohio State, to name a few. Perhaps no one is more excited about seeing Ball healthy and making plays.

"That's what Warren is capable of," said Wiggins of the touchdown runs. "He's big, he's powerful, he's quick, and he's fast. Obviously he has all of the tools, he's one of the better running backs around, and I was pleased with (the performance). It's a scrimmage so you're just trying to plot out what you're going to do so hopefully we can get even more carries out of him in a game situation."

Perhaps even more important to De Sales than Ball's physical talents and on-field production, are his intangibles and leadership.

"He's a great kid," Wiggins said. "He's a great leader and he works very hard. He's a good student and he's really everything that you would want a kid to be. We've been a little bit unlucky with injuries but he's had a great off-season and hopefully we can have more performances like tonight."

Having coached some great players over the last four years as head coach, Wiggins isn't ready to slot Ball at a certain spot on the list but certainly feels that he stacks up very well to some of the other talented guys he has developed.

"It's hard to say because we usually judge the kids when they're all done here," Wiggins explained. "He's certainly, ability-wise, one of the best, that's why he was so sought after and why he's going to Ohio State. Hopefully we can have him carry us a little bit this year."

Further analysis:

My stance on Warren Ball has always been that, when healthy, he is as good as it gets in the state of Ohio. On Friday night, Ball was as good as ever, running hard, showing great vision, and making big plays.

The most impressive things about Ball are the way he sets up his defenders and his change of direction. Whether it's dipping his shoulder one way or leaning his body, he always seems to be one move ahead of the defense and is able to manipulate the linebackers and safeties with a quick fake before hitting the hole. His ability to cut on a dime at his size is a rare trait and is one of the main reasons why he was one of the most heavily recruited backs in the Midwest. Once he's out in the open, there are very few defensive backs that can deal with his strength and violent running style.

The knock on Ball, other than durability, has always been that he runs too far upright but we have seen some outstanding running backs in the past that run with similar style. One thing Ball does well that sort of combats his upright running style is that he has a great knack for sensing contact and is able to get his pads down and square at contact so while he does run high, he doesn't take very much punishment in his chest and midsection.

Overall, it was a dominant effort from Ball and if he can stay healthy and continue to run the way he ran on Friday night, he could very well receive a bump in our next rankings update.


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