High-school football: Ohio State recruit eager for debut in ’Shoe

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Karl Kuntz | Dispatch
Ohio Stadium will be the site of the Ohio North-South All-Star game on Friday.

Brionte Dunn is already enrolled at Ohio State and going through spring practice, but the other blue-chip running back the Buckeyes signed this year — Warren Ball of DeSales — is getting ready to play on Friday in the Ohio North-South All-Star game in Ohio Stadium.

It raises a question: Who is getting the jump on whom? Dunn’s first public appearance in Ohio Stadium won’t come until Saturday, when coach Urban Meyer presents his first Ohio State spring game.

But as a member of the South team on Friday, Ball has first dibs.

“The anticipation is really building up,” Ball said yesterday before the South’s practice. “I am really looking forward to playing in the stadium for the first time. It’s going to be my home for the next four years.”

He saw many games the past couple of seasons as a guest of the Buckeyes due to his high-profile status as a prospect. Friday won’t be the same as a Saturday in the fall, but Ball can imagine.

“I know it’s going to be fun,” he said.

Whether Ball will play this season is unknown. Dunn, from Canton GlenOak, appears to be making a bid for the No. 3 back behind Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde after enrolling in January.

“There is a little bit of an advantage being here (early), but you catch up fast,” Meyer said. “We’ll see what happens in training camp.”

Ball could have pursued getting a head start at Ohio State, too, but he said it’s tough to graduate early from DeSales.

“And the high-school memories, that’s a one-time thing,” Ball said. “I wanted to enjoy that. I’ll be here in June. … And I think it will be fair game.”

He has two games to play between now and then, the Ohio North-South on Friday and the Big 33 between teams from Ohio and Pennsylvania in Hershey, Pa., in June.

“I look at the game Friday as the last chance to wear my DeSales helmet and representing that community which has meant so much to me,” Ball said. “I think that’s pretty special, because it’s in a great game with a great tradition.”

As Dunn is gaining a head start working in Meyer’s new spread offense, so is Ball. Although he ran from the I formation primarily at DeSales, the South is using a spread offense designed by coach Mike Mauk of Kenton that boosted first his son Ben and then another son Maty — this year’s South quarterback — to national passing records.

“The spread has its benefits,” Ball said. “It spreads the defense out, and I will have some running plays here and there. … This definitely is giving me a taste. So I’ve got to get used to it. I’ve got to get ready for it. … It opens things up and gets your weapons in space with a chance to make plays. That’s what I like about it.”

tmay@dispatch.com

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