Motivated Ballage Preparing For Big Senior Season

Time can move pretty quickly when you’re in college. No one needs to remind Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage who is just weeks away from beginning his senior season in Tempe. Now the Peyton, Colorado native is making sure his final year will be best his best ever, on and off the field.

“I’m a lot different,” Ballage said to’s Brad Cesmat via Skype recently. “Being more flexible and more mobile and being able to do things I wasn’t able to do before. That’s always a key aspect of football. Just being able to polish those little things.”

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is coming off an impressive, yet injury-riddled season where he rushed for 14 touchdowns, seven in one game against Texas Tech, but battled injuries and inconsistency at times. He rushed for only 226 yards as the Devils dropped their final six games and missed a bowl for the first time under Todd Graham. 

A dip in production and wins convinced Ballage to forego the NFL draft.

“I thought that I would have a better opportunity staying another year and helping the team out,” he explained to Cesmat. “The type of family and support system I have, they supported me through the process. I had the opportunity at the end of the day to choose what I wanted, what I felt in my heart and that’s what I did.” 

The Devils appear loaded at the skill positions with the return of Ballage and fellow senior running back Demario Richard. Former Chandler High star N’Keal Harry more than looked the part last season as a true freshman wide receiver.

Maybe the biggest unknown, at least publicly, is at quarterback, where incumbent Manny Wilkins is hoping to hold off Alabama transfer Blake Barnett and a handful of other young signal callers when fall camp starts in a couple months.

“I know that these guys are busting their [butts] right now,” Ballage said of the Sun Devil quarterback group. “Everybody’s stepping their game. When you have a lot of competition in one area it makes everybody better.”

One thing that is certain is the return of a healthy Ballage will make ASU better in 2017.

It’s one of the reasons why he came back in the first place.