"We'll get to play against people we've never played against," said Ballard, who will be on the South squad. "It will be good competition. It will be a step above high school, but not quite as good as what we'll see in college."
The 6-7, 265-pound Ballard played tight end, punted and was the Division II Southwest District defensive player of the year for the second year in a row as an impact defensive end.
As a senior, he played in eight games and caught 22 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, he had 77 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss and three sacks. He was a four-year letterman in football and basketball.
He is a physical tight end with excellent speed (4.8 seconds in the 40) and good hands. He could grow into an offensive lineman at the college level, but will begin his college career at tight end.
"I think I block well and I have pretty good hands and good instincts," he said.
How good of an athlete is Ballard? He was briefly courted by the likes of Purdue, Southern Illinois and Wright State for basketball.
Ballard said he is happy with where his weight is right now.
"My first year that should be fine," he said. "Hopefully by next year I can be up around 285. They told me they don't mind have a 300-pound tight end. I think I can (stretch defenses). If they give me a chance, I think I can show them I can do that."
Some have speculated that Ballard will eventually move to the offensive line.
"They said there's no doubt I'm going to get my shot at tight end," Ballard said. "They're not even thinking about me at offensive line because they have a ton of offensive linemen. They didn't want to bring me in for something they didn't need, and they think I can contribute early as soon as I'm ready for it."
Ballard said he will be around Ohio State this summer.
"I am not enrolling early," he said. "But I will voluntarily start summer workouts. My uncle lives in Columbus. I'm going to stay with him and work out and be on campus."
The idea that the Buckeyes could be a top-five team again this year and possibly play for a conference or national championship has Ballard excited to get going.
"It makes me want to work harder than I have in the past," he said. "I just want to keep working hard so I get some playing time."
"I think I'll have an opportunity to get some playing time," Ballard said. "All three of those guys are working hard and they're all good players. All three of them are great tight ends. They have age on me. Hopefully, I can go in and learn from them."
About The Classic
This will be the 61st annual Ohio North-South Classic, making it the longest running high school football all-star game in the nation.
Four Ohio State signees are in the game. The three OSU signees on the South team are Springboro tight end Jake Ballard and the Cincinnati Colerain duo of linebacker Tyler Moeller and offensive lineman Connor Smith. Cleveland Glenville defensive end Robert Rose will be on the North squad.
Twelve players in the game have received Big Ten scholarships, while at least 41 of the 68 players in the game will play Division I football beginning this fall.
John Magistro of Bellaire coaches the South, while Vic Whiting of Canal Fulton Northwest coaches the North.
Players and coaches from each side are practicing each day this week at Otterbein College. They will also make a variety of public appearances, including visits to Children's Hospital, Columbus City Council and a Columbus Clippers baseball game.
Tickets for the game are $10. They are available by calling Crew Stadium at (614) 447-CREW or by going to the stadium box office on game day.
The game will be televised on a tape delay basis by Fox Sports Net Ohio. It is set to air Thu., June 22, at 8 p.m. on FSN Ohio. It will also be broadcast live by WCLT-FM (100.3) of Newark and on the Internet at www.broadcastmonsters.com