One of Maryland’s top out-of-state class of 2016 offensive line targets was back on campus Oct. 4 for the UMD-Ohio State bout. And though the Terps suffered a 52-24 loss, this Virginia native had naught but praise for the program.
“Honestly, I thought the atmosphere and electricity in Byrd Stadium was awesome,” said 6-foot-7, 297-pound offensive lineman Josh Ball (Stafford/Fredericksburg, Va.), who holds close to double-digit offers. “I really love Maryland, and I thought they played hard. It’s the first year in the Big Ten, so, you know, there’s going to be some growing pains.
“But it’s a great school, great education and I like what they’ve got going on there with the Big Ten move and everything. And they treat me so well there too. Even though they lost that game, it didn’t matter, I love it at Maryland.”
Although Maryland didn’t show its best side during the game, Ball still saw some silver lining in the effort. He honed in on the offensive line practically the entire game, for example, and afterwards thought he’d have an opportunity to contribute fairly early during his career.
“I’ll be honest, I thought the O-line was a little weak, and I believe them when they say they need more offensive linemen like me,” Ball said. “I can definitely see that. So I feel like, if I went there, it would be an opportunity for me to contribute pretty early in my [college] career.”
Ball had an opportunity to speak to several Maryland coaches before and after the game. That includes his area recruiter, Chad Wilt, whom he’s developed quite a rapport with.
“Coach Wilt is great. Like a couple times every week we message each other [on Twitter]; he’s great,” Ball said. “He’s an awesome guy and really energetic and down to earth. I love talking to him, and he’s told me some great things about Maryland.”
Terps offensive line coach Greg Studrawa recently stopped by Stafford as well. Ball couldn’t speak to him personally, but he said it “was really good” to see him and it showed “Maryland really wants me.”
The Stafford product said he’s aiming to return to College Park, Md., for another game this fall. If not, he said he’d “definitely” be back sometime during the winter.
“I really want to get back for another game, I’m just not sure which,” Ball said. “I really love it there. It’s a great campus, it’s great academics, and I like where they’re going with the program.”
Maryland is hardly the only school on Ball’s radar, however. He also holds offers from Duke, Marshall, N.C. State, Virginia, West Virginia, Wake Forest and Old Dominion. In addition, programs such as Penn State, Clemson, North Carolina, Boston College, Tennessee, Minnesota, Florida State and even Oregon have been in touch. He said BC should be coming through next.
Thus, with more verbals inevitably about to pile in, Ball is claiming no early leaders or favorites. He said he’s taking the process slowly and wants to see what materializes following the fall.
“I’m open to any college now, as long as I get an education,” he said. “Every offer I get, I’m open to. There’s not one individual school that’s getting more attention from me than the others. One thing, though, is I want to stay close to home; I want my family to be able to see me play.”
Which would seem to give the East Coast schools a leg up. Ball himself wouldn’t come right out and say it, but WVU and UVA have seemingly caught his eye.
“UVA, that’s one I really like. It would be a big plus if I went there since it’s only about 45 minutes away. I really like UVA and I like the coaches there,” Ball said. “I went to the first game against UCLA and I plan to go again.
“And definitely I love WVU too. I went to the Oklahoma game and I definitely want to go to another. I love the coaches there and they really want me there. [The WVU staff is] so down to earth and it really fits me. I really like it there; it’s one of the tops for me.”
Next up for Ball is a trip to Virginia Tech for a game, followed by Clemson if possible. He said he’d like to procure offers from UNC, Penn State and Clemson since he’s been in consistent contact with their assistants.
For now, though, he wants to finish out his junior season strong. He said he’s improved his run blocking, but his pass protection still needs a little work.
“We’re actually mixing it up a little bit this year, playing more smash-mouth, so my coaches put me at guard,” said Ball, who wants to commit by mid-fall of his senior season. “We pass a little bit, but we run more now, so my run blocking has picked up a lot. Mainly I have to work on my footwork in pass pro, but so far I think I’m doing well all-around.”
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