Ball still rehabbing, will switch numbers

Sophomore linebacker limited in mat drills and spring practice but still poised to earn a starting job this season.

It didn't take Marcus Ball very long to make an impact with the Seminoles.

In his true freshman campaign a season ago, the Stone Mountain, Ga. native quickly showed flashes of the type of player that he can be for Florida State before injuring his knee early in the year.

In just three games of play, he racked up 13 tackles, one interception and consequent return of 54 yards and two pass break ups. He even stepped into the role as FSU's fourth linebacker.

He has been using this offseason to rehabilitate and get back into the form that made him one of the Seminoles' brightest young stars.

"Physically I am not really limited but the risk keeps me limited," Ball told Renegade Report. "The rehab is going real good. I can feel my knee getting stronger. The cool weather and the crazy weather we are going through right now don't help it, though. I will get it over that."

The speedy linebacker said that even though he hasn't been cleared to participate in mat drills, he has been with his teammates each day offering support and working on his own off to the side.

"I am in there every morning with the guys," Ball said. "I am in there on the bike and stretching and doing some abs on the medicine balls. I am just trying to do whatever I can to get stronger and better without risking getting hurt."

If it were up to Ball, he'd be allowed to compete when spring practice kicks off early next month but it's more than likely he won't be cleared.

"Spring practice I don't know, that's something that Randy (Oravetz) will have to tell you," Ball said. "Whatever he says I can do. If I had my choice I'd be out there but I ain't going out there if I can't. It wouldn't be smart to rush back."

In addition to getting his knee back into shape, Ball has also had to make the adjustment of getting a new position coach.

The 6-foot, 210-pound defender likes what new coach Chuck Amato brings to the table.

"(Amato) is a real good coach. He's a funny dude," Ball said. "He's real smart, too, and I understand where he's coming from. He kind of gives you the straight forward. You know, the ‘I want it this way and this way only' kind of approach. That's what I like about him."

Amato replaces former linebackers coach Kevin Steele, who left for the defensive coordinator's position at the University of Alabama.

According to Ball, the transition between coaches hasn't been too difficult.

"Surprisingly there aren't too many differences between them. Steele was super strict and you had to get it done the way he wanted it done. But you know, it's basically the same way with Coach Amato. You just have to get the job done for him."

Despite the fact that he won't be able to compete for playing time in a wide open linebacker depth chart this spring, Ball still has a shot to earn the spotting job at Sam linebacker this fall.

With the early departure of Lawrence Timmons to the NFL, Amato will be looking for someone to step into the playmaking shoes of the soon-to-be first round pick.

That somebody could be Ball.

"I am very excited to get the year started. I want to get the year started right now," Ball said. "Everybody on this team expects themselves to be out there competing for a starting job. I just happen to be in the right situation right now where I'm in a good position to be competing for a starting spot (but) it doesn't put extra hype into my sophomore season.

"I go into every season knowing that I am going to play important minutes. The whole starting thing doesn't matter. It's something to work for but all that matters is what you do on that field."

Ball revealed to Renegade Report that he will be switching jersey numbers prior to the start of the 2007 season. Instead of wearing No. 44, he will wear the No. 7 jersey vacated by Buster Davis.

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