For Colts rookie running back Vick Ballard, life in the NFL is much different than the one he just left in Starkville, MS. No, it’s not about getting paid now (insert your favorite joke about SEC football) but rather the different mentality required to succeed in the NFL.
At Mississippi State, Ballard was the Bulldogs’ “workhorse” running back and a co-captain as a senior. In his two seasons in Starkville, he was as dependable a runner as could be found in the always strong SEC. Ballard averaged almost 5.7 yards per carry for his career and scored 29 touchdowns on the ground and added two more as a receiver. He was the focal point for opposing defensive coordinators trying to stop Mississippi State.
Having fallen to the fifth round because of concerns about his size and durability, Ballard now faces an uphill battle, trying to distinguish him in a very crowded Colts backfield competition. He feels that he must play mistake-free football here in the preseason and take advantage of every opportunity.
“It’s true what they say about the NFL. Everybody’s good, everybody’s fast, everybody’s strong. I’ve been pretty decent so far, but I’ve got to concentrate on staying mistake free to get noticed.”
The opportunities to get noticed have been few so far for Ballard. He’s been mainly working with the third team offense along with Delone Carter behind quarterback Chandler Harnish. Ballard says that’s been the biggest challenge for him so far as a pro:
“The biggest challenge for me is to stay on top of the game on the sideline. I’m limited in the touches I get, so I have to make sure to always be taking ‘mental reps’ while the other guys are out there.”
After growing up in Pascagoula, MS and playing his college ball in Starkville, Ballard is still trying to take in the size of Indianapolis.
“Oh, it’s a lot bigger than anything in Mississippi. There’s a whole lot more to do here. I like it. I don’t have a lot of free time right now, but I’m hoping to get out and see more of the city.”
For now, Ballard is concentrating on doing the things necessary to make sure he has that time to explore his new home.
Tags: Mississippi State, vick ballard
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