The Hurry-Up: Jayden Ballard Excited for “Pretty Dangerous” Receiver Group, Finding Out Basketball Starting Five Among 2021 Signees

By Zack Carpenter on December 21, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Jayden Ballard

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

As he heads into his Ohio State career, one the begins the first week of January when he arrives to campus as an early enrollee, Jayden Ballard was excited to hear about the fact that the receivers room would be growing with the commitment of fellow high-end recruit Emeka Egbuka.

In an interview with Eleven Warriors a few days prior to his signing, Ballard talked briefly about what it was going to be like to be in the same position group as six other players ranked in the top 100 overall.

“That’ll be pretty dangerous. I’m just trying to compete,” Ballard said. “(Marvin’s) kind of a guy that does all the routes and opens up his route tree more, and he can track the ball like I can, too. He’s a great receiver as well. (Emeka’s) a deep-threat receiver, too. He opens up his route tree as well.”

As for what Ballard brings to the table, he says that he has “great ball skills, I can track the ball and get it at the highest point,” and those are just some of the traits that had Brian Hartline dying to make him a Buckeye during the recruiting process.

And speaking of Hartline, that’s a relationship that continues to stand on firm ground throughout the years, and Ballard is ready to get coached up by one of the nation’s top assistants.

“(Our relationship is) really strong. I’ve known him for a while. And now that he’s the receivers coach, it’s gotten even stronger,” Ballard said. “My dad always pushed me so I’m used to (how Hartline will coach). I’m used to getting pushed so that helps. (He’s) no B.S. and will push me hard.”

While the vast majority of Ballard’s athletic focus over the next two weeks is preparing for his descent on the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, that’s not stopping him from getting in some final minutes on the basketball court. It’s a sport that he absolutely would have been a collegiate scholarship athlete in had he pursued it as a career instead of football.

Just a few days before he signed his national letter of intent, Ballard took a few minutes to talk with us about the upcoming signing. Following that Friday afternoon interview, Ballard said he was set to play in Massillon Washington’s season opener against Ashland as he’s “getting in a few games before Ohio State.”

In that opener, Ballard poured in a team-high 16 points while adding eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in a 78-73 loss. 

Through four games, Ballard is averaging 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals, which includes a pair of double-doubles, one of which came against Ben Christman’s Revere Minutemen (though Christman is not playing prior to enrolling early himself).

Ballard brings an explosive athletic skillset to the table in the Buckeyes’ 2021 class, and he showcases that each time he takes the court, which he says has been very helpful in improving his hand-eye coordination as a receiver.

Ballard is one of quite a few of Ohio State’s 2021 signees who excel in basketball. We spoke with five of the Buckeyes’ signees last week to get their thoughts on who a starting five would be from the entire 21-man group, and Ballard was the only unanimous selection. 

The responses of who would start and at which position:

Jayden Ballard

Point guard: Jayden Ballard

Shooting guard: Marvin Harrison Jr.

Small forward: Kyle McCord

Power forward: Jack Sawyer

Center: Mike Hall

Jack Sawyer

Point guard: Evan Pryor

Shooting guard: Jayden Ballard

Small forward: Jack Sawyer

Power forward: Kyle McCord or Reid Carrico

Center: Ben Christman

Sawyer, who laughs and says “I’m by far the best basketball player. They all know it, too,” says he has Chrisman as “the enforcer, the bruiser” and that TreVeyon Henderson would likely be the sixth man.

During the Buckeye Bash, Sawyer played against Pryor, Henderson and Tyleik Williams in King of the Court at a park near his home in Pickerington during the Buckeye Bash. As is customary for them, there was a lot of trash talk going back and forth – just like there is in their group chat, with more trash talk being thrown around in regards to basketball than football. 

“Everyone wants to be a baller. I mean, come on, everyone growing up wants to be the baller dunking and hitting threes and whatnot,” Sawyer said. “So there’s always a lot of talk going on about that.”

Kyle McCord

Point guard: Jordan Hancock or Evan Pryor

Shooting guard: Jayden Ballard

Small forward: Marvin Harrison Jr.

Power forward: Kyle McCord

Center: Jack Sawyer

“Jack was one of the few guys who actually played in high school,” McCord said. “I think if Marvin would’ve kept playing basketball he would’ve been really good. But we’ll see. Once we get up there and get to play, the truth will come out. He’ll have to back up his smack talk.

“I think the first night on campus we’ll get a little pickup game going. We’ll see.”

And as for Sawyer leaving Harrison off his list?

“Jack left Marvin out of the starting five?” McCord asked. “That’s not a valid source. Marvin’s really good.”

TreVeyon Henderson

Point guard: TreVeyon Henderson

Shooting guard: Jayden Ballard

Small forward: Jack Sawyer

Power forward: Mike Hall

Center: Ben Christman

Sixth man: Evan Pryor

“I ain’t gonna lie, me and Jack were playing at the Buckeye Bash, and he was cooking me the whole time,” Henderson said.

Marvin Harrison Jr.

Point guard: TreVeyon Henderson or Evan Pryor

Shooting guard: Jayden Ballard

Small forward: Marvin Harrison Jr.

Power forward: Kyle McCord

Center: Ben Christman

“I’ve never seen (Trey and Evan) play, but I’m pretty sure they would be good point guards,” Harrison said. “(Kyle) can really shoot. I don’t know if he told you about that, but he can pull from deep. I think Ben would be a great center with his big body down there. I think me and Jayden are definitely the best basketball players. Jayden played in high school. I stopped after my freshman year to focus on football. But Jayden’s definitely a great basketball player. He could probably play for the Ohio State basketball team if he wanted to. So me and Jayden are definitely up there.”

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