Versatility Is Ballard's Greatest Overall Asset

He's got the size and athleticism to play any number of positions on either side of the football, but Jake Ballard of Springboro will gladly settle into any position that the school he eventually chooses needs him to play. He likes playing tight end but he thinks he'll be a tackle if he plays on offense at the next level. And he likes to play defense so much that he'll play either end or tackle if they want him on that side of the ball.

‘A diamond in the rough' is just one way to describe Jacob Ballard of Springboro High School. When he ever settles into one position at some point in the future, he's likely to shine like the finest gems around.

He's arguably the most versatile line prospect in the state already. At 6-7 and 260 pounds, Ballard has the potential to be a formidable force at the next level as a tight end or tackle on offense and at either end or tackle on defense. And obviously college coaches from around the country are taking notice.

"Things are going pretty smoothly, it's not too bad. It's not annoying yet," said Ballard of his recruiting experience to this point. "A couple of schools have been coming by my high school like Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa. It's kind of exciting."

Most of the schools that are recruiting Ballard are telling him that he will play wherever he best fits the team. He had 16 catches for 300 yards as a tight end last year and on defense he played some at end before moving inside to play tackle.

"We basically run a wing-T and we don't pass a lot," he said. "But I like playing defense a lot better than offense but I'll play wherever they want me. It doesn't matter to me."

If he stays on the offensive side of the ball when he gets to college, Ballard thinks he might eventually end up at offensive tackle but he certainly thinks he's capable of playing at tight end at the next level.

"They tell me that I'll probably be a tight end in my first year because I won't gain enough weight (to move inside right away) and then I'll just move to tackle because (eventually) I'll get so big," he said. "That's what a lot of them are telling me."

Last season Ballard weighed in at about 240 pounds and earned first-team All-Ohio honors while playing the entire game on both sides of the ball. He's expected to be used in the same manner in his senior campaign.

I haven't grown taller but I've added about 20 pounds," he said. "I just need to keep getting faster and stronger."

Ballard is very athletic and moves well for a big man. He's a starter on the school's hoop team and he's been clocked at 4.8 seconds in the forty-yard dash.

"I'd be a fast offensive tackle. Some people (recruiting me) have talked about putting 50 pounds on me and make me an offensive tackle," he said. "But if Ohio State offers me they said it will probably be as a tight end. But I think they just offered two tight ends so I don't know."

He'll know more about Ohio State's intentions for him after he goes to their camp. Ballard is currently planning on camping at OSU, Michigan, Iowa and Louisville this summer.

"Ohio State said they want to see me at camp before they do anything, so I'll see how I do when I get there," he said. "I don't have any favorite but I like Ohio State."

At last count Ballard already had 16 scholarship offers from schools in the Big Ten, the ACC, the MAC and the Big East.

"There's Louisville, Michigan State, Indiana, Northwestern, Clemson, Duke, Boston College and some others," he said. "It's a pretty good list."

With the help of Ballard in a starring role, Springboro should be one of the best D-II teams in the state this season.

"We have high expectations and we're all working hard and hopefully we can put a few more wins on our 10-win season last year," Ballard said. "We have 18 returning starters and we're looking pretty good. We only lost twice last year, both to Carroll, and Carroll lost to (eventual D-II state champion) Brookhaven in the playoffs. Brookhaven has moved up to Division I now and we're looking to go very far, hopefully."

Ballard has a 3.5 GPA and will take both the ACT and the SAT for the first time in June.

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