Ball Aiming For Complete Season

Ohio State looks set at running back for its class of 2011 with verbal commitments from the top two such prospects in the state. Warren Ball, a four-star prospect from Columbus DeSales, is hoping to prove his worth this fall during the the course of a full season.

As his featured running back looks ahead to his senior season, Columbus DeSales head coach Ryan Wiggins has one key goal for Warren Ball: a complete season.

A four-star prospect who issued a verbal commitment to Ohio State on Sept. 1 of his junior year, Ball has proven himself to be one of the top in-state prospects. In getting to that point, however, the 6-2, 200 pound back has battled injuries that have cost him portions of the last two seasons.

Three weeks into his junior season, Ball suffered a high ankle sprain that cost him several weeks and kept him from being 100 percent even upon his arrival.

"I remember I had the ball and just made a cut and as soon as I made a cut it hurt and I couldn't put any pressure on it," he said. "I knew right then and there that it was bad."

DeSales lost the game, 13-10.

The injury was particularly frustrating because recovery can not be accelerated by rehab, only rest. While Ball watched from the sidelines, DeSales head coach Ryan Wiggins said he saw a player who was hungry to get back onto the field.

"He's used to being the guy," the coach said. "He's used to being a main contributor to our team. Sitting out is frustrating and it's probably frustrating for any kid but certainly for a kid who's used to being the guy that's leading in rushing yardage and scoring the touchdowns and those kinds of things. I think he's motivated to have a great senior year and to play each and every game from start to finish. That's our goal."

While on the sidelines, Ball said he took on the role of a coach in an effort to stay involved as much as possible.

"It really hurt seeing that I couldn't get out there with my team," he said. "I still helped out the coaches as far as play calling and preparation for the game and talking to our players. I would do everything I could without playing."

Ball made the jump from freshman football to the varsity level as a sophomore and helped the Stallions reach the state title game. However, a groin injury suffered near the end of the season cost him four games.

Still, he accumulated around 700 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

"We'd like for him to be our leader and be healthy for 15 weeks," Wiggins said. "We've been able to do it before and we've had players do it before and I think the better he's able to do that, the better our team will do.

"The thing I want to challenge him with is play every game for us. It's obvious that he's very good and there's a lot there but we need him in the game for that to happen. That's the big issue."

It was his work ethic that helped Ball assimilate into the natural pecking order of a team where upperclassmen generally call the shots.

"I took the approach of having to go and earn my way in and work my butt off to get to the top of the ranks," he said. "I wanted to go in there and play running back. I set my goal for being the best I could possibly be."

In addition to endearing Ball to his teammates, his efforts paid off in a big way when the Buckeyes came calling with a scholarship offer. Ball camped at OSU following his freshmen and sophomore seasons and said he accepted the offer almost as soon as it was officially extended Sept. 1.

Before the month was complete, Ball was joined in the class by four-star running back prospect Brionte Dunn. The 6-1, 215-pound Dunn preps at Canton GlenOak and comes in one spot higher than Ball on's Ohio rankings in part because his running style leaves him less susceptible to injury.

Wiggins said his hope is that Ball's work ethic will help him avoid the injury bug this fall.

"The stronger you are and the more flexible you are the less chance you're going to get injured," he said. "I think you lift as hard as you can and you condition and then you cross your fingers. Certain things are out of your control and that's been the case. They've just been little nagging things that you can't put your finger on but just enough to slow down his game. We feel like when he's healthy he can do some pretty good things."

Ball's hope is to give Buckeye fans a full preview of what is to come.

"I want to show people my full potential," he said. "I'm very excited, especially being my senior season. It's my last shot at it. I'm definitely excited about it."

When fully healthy, Wiggins said there are few limits to what Ball can do.

"The thing about Warren that is unique is that he's big and he's powerful," the coach said. "He's a big, powerful, downhill guy but he's also quick and agile and he can make you miss. Sometimes you have these scat-back guys and sometimes you have these big, powerful guys. To have a combination of all of that is pretty rare."

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