Last weekend, Falcon (Falcon, Colo.) running back/linebacker Kalen Ballage was hoping to make a name for himself when he traveled to Arizona to participate in the Rivals Camp Series against some of the top recruits in the region.
Not only did the 6-foot-3, 216-pound turn some heads, he was arguably one of the top performers for the whole event.
“That was the first actual combine I've attended by myself,” admitted Ballage. “I've been to camps and things like that before with my football team, but that was the first camp I attended as an individual. I just wanted to expose myself, because being from a place like Falcon, Colorado, people don't know much about us. I wanted to let them know we can play football here also.”
There’s no doubt there's some bias when it comes to who claims to have the best high school football in the nation, but according to the talented prospect it doesn't matter where you're from as long as you have the will to succeed.
“I've always heard about that ever since I was a kid, because my dad and all his family are from Texas, so he was always telling me, ‘Man, you got to watch out for those Texas boys because they know how to play football.’
“In my opinion, we play football here just like anybody else. Ae can get down and dirty and can take care of business too.”
Ballage is certainly confident in his ability on either side of the ball and claims it all starts with a sort of Jekyll and Hyde approach to his game.
“On defense, I'm very angry,” said the Falcon standout bluntly. “I’ll always find something to be angry about because that's the way you have to play this game if you want to be successful. I'm very aggressive, especially on defense, but on offense, I'm extremely patient.
“When running the football, I'm waiting for the gaps to open and then I'll burst, but until that point I like to let my blocks set up.”
His playing style has definitely caught the attention of the recruiting world and offers from around the nation are starting to flow in fairly quickly.
“Recruiting has been going really well and I'm currently up to 10 offers,” claimed Ballage. “My offers are from Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon State, Vanderbilt and Wyoming. I've also been in contact with some other schools like Tennessee, Washington, Washington State, Georgia and quite a few others.”
One school he has yet to hear from is Notre Dame, but there is no doubt that he is definitely interested in corresponding with the Irish and building a relationship with them in the future, especially since he has a family connection to the university.
“I'm definitely interested in Notre Dame and I think it would be a really good fit for me,” he said. “Unfortunately, I haven't heard from Notre Dame or anyone from their staff yet. I hope they'll reach out to me sometime here in the future.
“My uncle, Pat Ballage, went to Notre Dame and started all four years at strong safety (from 1982 to 1985). He definitely tells me a lot about them and I know he's Fighting Irish until the day he dies.”
While there's still plenty of time in the recruiting process for Notre Dame to reach out to the talented athlete, the Colorado product isn't worried at all because he feels that wherever he ends up he'll be successful.
“Really, I can work with anything,” explained Ballage confidently. “That's what I pride myself on. It doesn't matter where I'm at because I'm always going to play to the best my ability and it won't matter whether I'm at Notre Dame or a Division III school.
“I just want to find a place where I'm comfortable in every situation. You only get to go to college once, so you want to make sure you’re going to have a great time and get a great education. You want to make sure you love the people, the coaching staff, the major you choose and everything that goes along with football as well.”
Could a visit to South Bend be a viable option this upcoming year?
“I'm not quite sure yet where I want to go visit this summer, but Notre Dame could be one of those places,” claimed the talented junior. “I'd like to visit some places right now, but I'm in track season, so this sport you're in has to take priority because you have teammates counting on you.
“Nothing is out of the question for me and Notre Dame would be a great place to visit. It helps that I have family history at that school, so I can get information about them from my uncle and hopefully he can come on the visit with me and show me around. I would definitely like that.”