Time will be a factor – and in some respects, it already is a factor – but time has not run out yet for Notre Dame if it wants to continue its pursuit of 2014 running back Kalen Ballage.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder from Falcon High School in Falcon, Colo., already has over 25 offers from schools like Colorado, Colorado State, Boise State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oregon State and Vanderbilt among several others.
Ballage recently connected with Irish recruiting coordinator Tony Alford and Notre Dame is stepping up its interest.
“I got in contact with Coach Alford,” Ballage said. “He explained to me that he liked what he saw on film and everything. That’s kind of how it kicked off.”
Ballage says where the relationship goes from here is up to the Irish.
“It’s really all up to them,” he said. “He really told me there are not very many players in the country who can do the things I do on the field and those are his words exactly. Really, it’s all up to them.”
Ballage doesn’t know a ton about Notre Dame, but his uncle, Pat Ballage, played safety for the Irish in the 1980s.
“He told me a little bit about how they used to do things,” Ballage said of his uncle. “He hasn’t been with the coach now, but he’s told me a little about the campus and stuff like that.”
Ballage knows about the tradition at Notre Dame and it’s a school he’d be open to learning more about, but things may have to move quickly.
“There are still a lot of other schools that saw me before them,” he said. “It would have definitely been nicer to have them on me from the get-go, but clearly they didn’t know too much about me, so now they’re just starting to get around to it.”
Boise State, Michigan State, Washington, Michigan and Nebraska are just a few schools that have been on Ballage for some time and that’s given them a head start.
“Boise State was the first one to notice me, if not for them, I don’t think I’d be in the position I’m in today,” he said. “They were the first one to offer me, first one to notice me and that led to Michigan and Michigan led to Michigan State.
“I like Michigan State’s ability to produce big running backs. I like Nebraska as well; I’ve seen them do some really good things this year.”
Ballage hasn’t taken any visits yet this fall and doesn’t have any scheduled yet. He’d be open to setting up a trip to South Bend.
“It’d definitely be something I’d have to look at,” he said. “Like I said, they’re kind of getting a late start on my recruitment.”
He doesn’t plan on making a decision until the end of his senior year.
“I don’t know exactly when,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to focus on the season at hand.”
With his size and sub-4.4 speed, Ballage brings a lot to the table and believes opponents underestimate his speed.
“I don’t think anybody at first believes I’m as fast as I am because of my size and that helps me out a lot,” he said.
Some programs like him on defense, but he prefers offense.
“A lot of schools are letting me have the option,” he said. “Last year was my first year playing outside linebacker. I have two offers to play outside linebacker, but the rest are for running back. I would like to play running back.”
Comfort will be the biggest factor in his decision.
“I just want to find a place where I’m comfortable and that’s not just within football. I think you want to go to a school where you like the environment, the people you’re around and every aspect of that school.”