FALCON -- It was no secret during the 2013 football season that University of Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre wanted Falcon standout Kalen Ballage to be a Buff.
MacIntyre’s eyes would light up at the mention of the designated athlete from just east of Colorado Springs. Thursday, MacIntyre got his answer and is now forced to move on without him.
“I spoke with him today. He really didn’t have much to say,” Ballage said. “He just kind of congratulated me and told me that I should go far in life. I thanked him for that. He’s a really good guy and good coach and I think CU’s going to do good things with or without me.”
Ballage, like so many other high school athletes, was allowed to sign his National Letter of Intent to continue his football career on Wednesday. But the weather had other ideas. Snow and sub-zero temperatures cancelled all activities for Falcon school district No. 49 on both Wednesday and Thursday.
Not wanting to keep everyone in the dark any longer, Ballage sent in his commitment to Arizona State. He and the rest of Falcon’s student athletes officially signed during a private ceremony at the Woodmen Hills Rec Center in Falcon.
“I kind of went back and forth for a couple of months but at the end of the day (Arizona State) is where my heart was at,” Ballage said. “I visited a lot of different schools but Arizona State is the place to be.”
Ballage lined up at running back, wide receiver and linebacker for Falcon, making him one of the top versatile players in this year’s class. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, he has the size and the speed to contribute for the Sun Devils right away, which is what he hopes to do.
The plan going into his freshman year is for him to be used primarily as a running back, which will give him plenty of chances to score with ASU’s explosive offense.
“That’s the plan is to come in and play right away,” he said. “I need to stay healthy and work hard and I don’t see I won’t be able to do that. It’s definitely a blessing.”
Although he had plenty of options on the table including CU and UCLA, the further in to the recruiting process he got the more he felt the pull from Arizona State. He cited the connection he made with the players down there as a big reason. He had been receiving text messages from those players as signing day neared, but not to pressure him into making a decision.
It turned out the guys he had grown close to on his visit just wanted to check in on him and talk about things other than football. That attitude resonated with him and when decision time came, it made things much easier for him.
His putting it off a day had more to do with wanting to go through the signing day event with his friends and teammates than the uncertainty of the path he was about to take. And despite social media reports that he was on campus in Boulder, Ballage never had a doubt that he was bound for Tempe.
“I was not in Boulder on Wednesday (laughs),” he said. “Whoever saw that must be seeing things, but it’s been a wild ride and I’m glad it’s coming to an end.”
Ballage and ThunderRidge offensive lineman Sam Jones were the only two Colorado prospects to sign with Arizona State. The state of Colorado as a whole accounted for 46 Division I signings in 2014, making it a banner year for the state.