In the blink of an eye Marcus Ball’s recruiting world was turned upside down. When former Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema departed for Arkansas earlier this month, Ball was left rethinking a decision he had made just a few weeks prior. Fortunately for him, though, he had no shortage of options. One that emerged almost immediately was the University of Michigan. Now thanks to a strong official visit a few weeks back he is looking at the Wolverines in a more favorable light.
“It was great,” said Ball regarding his time in Ann Arbor. “It was a good trip. I met some new people and saw some people that I’m familiar with already like Taco Charlton and Jake Butt. Overall the trip was nice. I enjoyed the coaches.”
“The visit was definitely valuable because I got a feel for not only Coach Montgomery, who is recruiting me and recruits my area, but I also got a feel for the players… the guys that would be my brothers that I’d be next to. I got a feel for my position coach (Greg Mattison) who is really cool and has got a lot of equity in his name. And obviously I got a feel for Coach Hoke.”
Familiarity has played a major role in Michigan’s ability to move into prime contention. Recent trip to Ann Arbor wasn’t his first face to face interaction with the coaching staff.
“Earlier in the season they told me they wanted me to come up as a receiver at first,” Ball recalled. “They said they needed a receiver and they wanted me to come up to camp to see how I did with that. I didn’t participate in camp while I was up there. I just went up with a friend that participated. Then they just kind of fell off from there. I didn’t talk to them for a long time. Then when a spot opened up I was one of the first ones for them to call.”
Ball was also one of the initial calls made by new Wisconsin coach, Gary Anderson this morning. That much anticipated first conversation proved to be well worth the wait.
“It was good,” said Ball. “He seems like a very good guy. He talked about me being a safety within the scheme of his defense.”
Michigan, meanwhile, is courting the 6-3, 210-pounder as a linebacker. For his part the talented youngster is comfortable with either.
“I played every position on the field to be honest with you,” he said. “In my sophomore year I played quarterback, then in my junior year I played a little bit of quarterback, receiver, safety, punt returner, , punter…(and) kicker. I’m a guy that is always involved, never comes off the field, and will do anything to win. I’m long, quick, and my instincts are pretty good on the field.”
A much bigger factor in the final analysis will be the rapport he is able to forge with his would be-coaches. Anderson clearly made a good first impression, but Ball indicated he isn’t yet ready to shut down his recruitment.
“It’s hard to seek out what coaches are real and (which ones) are not because they’re kind of always recruiting,” Ball explained. “(It comes down to) just seeing what he is about and just getting a feel for him on a more personal level, which will be hard because of the timeframe. But meeting the strength and conditioning coach and meeting my position coach and getting real cool with them (are also important factors). As far as the players… they’re still there, so the comfort is still there. It’s not only my brother (Ray Ball) that I know there. I know a lot of (other guys) that are up there too.”
Even so, the Westerville South star insists that he will continue to look strongly elsewhere while trying to determine the best fit.
“Other schools have definitely been contacting me,” he stated. “Obviously Michigan offered me after the change, Tennessee offered after the change. I obviously took an official to Michigan and I’ll probably take an official to Tennessee. Outside of that I don’t know what I have planned. First I want to see and get a better feel for the guy I’m committed to already and then pretty much go from there.”
After interacting with each of his prospective coaches on a deeper level, don’t look for Ball to spend a great deal of time deliberating the outcome. He doesn’t enjoy recruiting enough to drag things out for effect.
“I definitely would like to be done now, but I’m going back to the drawing board with my evaluations, so obviously I can’t get it done right now,” he said. “But I definitely want to be committed and have the place that I’m going to call my second home before signing day. So I don’t really want to prolong the process by making a decision on signing day. I definitely want to do it before.”