Throughout the summer, National Scout Jon Ledyard, Assistant Director Joe Marino and Scouting Director Kyle Crabbs will be conducting summer assessments on 99 notable senior prospects. Of these 99 seniors, the 33 most prominent will be covered by all three analysts.Of the remaining 66, each of the three analysts has “drafted” 22 of them to scout exclusively.
This serves as the foundation for our 2018 draft assessments.
Assessment by Kyle Crabbs
Name: Kalen Ballage
School: Arizona State
Position: Running Back
Date of Birth: Not Available
High School: Falcon (CO)
Games played: 34
Games started: 13
Team Captain: Yes
293 attempts, 1,315 yards, 21 touchdowns, 62 receptions, 593 yards, 2 touchdowns
High School Accolades
4 star athlete (Rivals) out of HS.
Matched FBS record with eight total touchdowns against Texas Tech in 2016; the only player to accomplish the feat against a FBS opponent.
Games watched: Texas Tech (2016), Arizona (2016), Washington (2016), Southern California (2016)
It is immediately evident that Kalen Ballage is a special athlete. Has notable size (listed at 6’3, 220 lbs) and a great amount of explosiveness in first step. Ability to plant the foot and go from 0-60 is tremendous; will quickly cover ground and get out of the backfield when afforded the chance to press hard up the field. Runs with an imposing level of pop in pads; understands he’s bigger than anyone he’ll face in the secondary and consistently challenges tacklers to step up to the plate and finish him in the open field. Is an effective receiver out of the backfield as well, has gotten a good deal of touches and does not fight the football with hands as a receiver. Is a solid run finisher in pile situations; does a good job of working to get the pad level down and stay underneath of tacklers to drive the legs. Shows good balance to spin off of contact and maximize run after contact.
Durability is going to loom over evaluation unless there’s a notable bump in workload volume in 2017. Has had a number of rough games against more physically stout interior defensive lines; does not appear to have great stride length laterally or the ability to plant and drive laterally to get out of the hole quickly. Is not going to have equal amounts of success with zone read and cuts as compared to gap or power runs. Can be guilty at times of being over-anxious when pressing the line of scrimmage and run up into the backs of offensive linemen, stemming any forward momentum and delaying press up into the line of scrimmage. Long speed is not as notable as initial burst and acceleration from a still or collected base.
Arizona State Running Back Kalen Ballage has the potential to be a very special back; provided his team comes together around him this year and he shows some subtle improvements of his own during the course of the 2017 college season. Ballage is currently entrenched in a timeshare with Demario Richard in the Sun Devils backfield, but Ballage is clearly the physically gifted runner. For Ballage to reach his peak potential as a Draft asset, he’s going to need to take a notable number of carries away from Richard this season and make the most of them.
When Ballage stays north and south as a runner and is afforded the chance to get beyond the line of scrimmage, he’s very difficult to square up due to his explosiveness, size and natural athleticism. This is a player that has proven in the open field to be competent going through, over or around defenders. That confidence in one on one situations puts defenders consistently on their heels and as a result Ballage is able to generate a lot of additional yardage beyond first contact. But Ballage’s patience pressing the line could stand to be a touch more consistent and his offensive line needs to be markedly better if his production is going to match his physical abilities.
In all, Kalen Ballage is a massive upside player with excellent physical gifts, but he’s a player that needs to put it all together in 2017 (with the help of his teammates).