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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 4

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 4 37 Ball's either going to be a safety with corner coverage skills or a corner with a safety's physical nature, and so versatility can be a plus for him, with safety being his likely landing spot. And his athleticism will be welcomed in a Boilermaker secondary that could use short-term and long-term upgrades in that area. He was one of Purdue's earliest in-state priorities and it's never a bad thing to land charismatic people from your most important recruiting territories. Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 High School: Ben Davis Hometown: Indianapolis Senior Stats: 51 tackles E lijah Ball fits the mold of what Jeff Brohm has sought in Purdue's sec- ondary: A cornerback who is big enough to play safety. At Ben Davis, Ball did both, playing cornerback as a sophomore then moving to safety due to circumstance, including the shooting incident involving standout DB Rondell Allen. The shift put one of the Giants' best tacklers in posi- tion to make them, secondary coach Quinton Wilburn said. "Later in the season, he became great at it," Wilburn said, "but early on, I do think it was a little bit of a transition for him to just play and not think too much." Ball was an important piece of a Ben Davis defense that was often so domi- nant his numbers were held down by opponents' inability to advance the ball beyond its defensive front. Equipped with college bodies all over the field, Ben Davis had the luxury to use a player of Ball's dimensions at safety. "In Indiana, a kid like that might be an outside linebacker or defensive end," Wilburn said. "And we could have put him at outside linebacker, to be honest with you." Ball, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, picked Purdue in early June, over offers then from Cincinnati, Colorado State and others. He thought then that Purdue liked him at either position, and that possibility remains. "It'll just depend on where they need me the most," Ball said. It could be early, given the Boilermakers have plenty of open spots in their defensive backfield. "He has good makeup, he's a competitor, he doesn't come off the field," Brohm said on December's signing day. "He works extremely hard. When you go see him in school or talk to his coaches, he's a guy of all of them that they have at Ben Davis (who) has worked his tail off even past the season, so we like his work ethic." The Purdue Fit Did You Know? Ball texted Jeff Brohm in late November, asking if he was leaving for the Tennes- see job. Brohm's text back: "Those reports are false." Elijah Ball Defensive back "Ball is a solid, hard-working de- fensive back who will be trusted to play cen- terfield and not give up the big play, while also contributing in run support. His size is good. His skill set is average. But his football IQ is high." — Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt take Action photo by Brian Neubert

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