Its one of the most sought-after accomplishments of young college football recruits throughout the country and Marcus Ball had it, playing time as a true freshman. Not only did he have it but Marcus Ball demonstrated ball-hawking athletic ability and monstrous intensity. The fiery freshman was also not one to shy away from voicing his enthusiasm. However, his 2006 season took a turn for the worse during a kickoff return against Rice where he went down and out and was later diagnosed with a torn ACL that would sideline him for the remainder of the season and a good portion of this offseason. At such a critical stage of development, a raw, less explosive player may have lost a step or two but Ball has put pressure on current starter Dekoda Watson, who has remained fairly healthy, to challenge for a starting job at OLB. I asked Ball about his current status and he said, "I feel real good. Everything they do and when you hear me sitting out is just a precaution. I'm feeling real good and 100%."
One of the advantages that youth brings is a fresh start and a bit of a cleaner slate when a new coach takes over your position. With the departure of Kevin Steele, several players have had to learn new techniques and schemes but according to Ball, Coach Amato has really helped him become an even more aggressive, intense playmaking linebacker. "He has done so much for me. He has gotten me in linebacker attack mode. Read and attack. I was more of a read, read, and then go and he's got me reading [some] but its all about attacking."
Besides his self-motivation ethic, Ball is known for his ability to play off of other vocal leaders on the team like Budd Thacker and Geno Hayes. I asked Marcus what the talkers say to make the team tick and he said, "Whatever we need to say to get them fired up. Its all about whatever needs to be said and done for the team to get fired up. My favorite one is one heartbeat. We have to be one heartbeat: one team, one soul, one machine, all attack."
With so much adversity to overcome, it would be understandable for someone to become a bit selfish in developing as a player with pro potential but Ball remains selfless in his aspirations for the upcoming season. When asked about his goals, he said, "I don't care about personal goals much. I just want to stay healthy. The team goals are my personal goals [ACC Championship, etc.]." Lastly, I asked Marcus what the Nole faithful should look out for this season to which he concluded with this message, "Look for a brand new, hot, dominating team. Look out we are coming real hard and we've been working hard this summer and this offseason. We're a better team and we're more together so we are just coming out and trying to make it happen."