Coach Spotlight: Dakota Ball
"Dakota started at tight end and defensive line for us," said Shiflett. "He played almost every snap and had really a great season. On defensive he was in on over 100 tackles, and he was equally outstanding on offense. He's just a good player all-around."
Ball, who played a lot on the defensive line as a freshman, was hurt his sophomore year which cut short his playing time. Still he was listed as a pre-season All-State selection by AJC.com.
"We use Dakota inside and out on the line," said Shiflett. "He'll do whatever we ask of him. He's big, strong, moves extremely well for 290. The best part of his game is his ability to maneuver himself and get good leverage on his opponent. He also plays the game with a very high motor."
Many schools were high on Ball early. His offer list included UGA, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Clemson, South Carolina, Maryland, and Stanford. Ball attended the Penn State and Florida game prior to his commitment to Alabama. He was also in Tuscaloosa for last week's Iron Bowl.
"Alabama was the first to offer him," said Shiflett on Ball's commitment to UA. "I think he felt comfortable there after visiting. He knew that's where he wanted to go and decided to go ahead and make it."
The Dragons finished with a 7-3 regular season, but faced a fierce Carver-Columbus team with a slew of blue-chip recruits lead by Isaiah Crowell and fell 35-0 in the first round of the AA playoffs. Coach Shiflett is glad to have Ball back for another season and expects to see big things out of him in his last year at Pepperell.
"Dakota's a good person, solid student, and plays hard," said Shiflett. "He's driven, with a strong work ethic. What success he's had he's earned it on his own. We're going ask Dakota to take on more of a leadership role as a senior. We plan on taking full advantage of having a player with Dakota's talent and ability at our disposal."
Coach Shiflett reports Ball's GPA at 3.7. During the off-season Shiflett expects him to play basketball and track (shot put & discuss). From an athletic family, Ball's mother was a gymnast at Jacksonville State in Alabama.
The city of Lindale is in Floyd County, just south of Rome. Pepperell may be getting a reputation for defensive lineman. Marcus Dixon, currently a 2nd string nose tackle with the New York Jets, played his prep ball for the Dragons.
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