On the eve of his official visit to Wisconsin, Westerville (Ohio) South athlete Marcus Ball previewed what he expects to see this weekend in Madison and looked back on his first official visit of the recruiting process to Illinois.
Ball was in Champaign this past weekend to see Illinois host Minnesota, and came away impressed with what he saw from the Illini.
"As far as meeting my expectations - they met and exceeded them," Ball said. "I got to see Illinois' tradition, how the coaches are like on a regular basis and how it is on game day. They are not having the best season right now, but I got to experience how those guys work together. The balance between campus, academics, football and social life is great there."
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Ball has played multiple positions at the high school level and could project on offense or defense in college. Illinois sees him filling their need at safety.
"Right now their safety position is wide open, so they want me to come down there and play right away," Ball said. "That obviously would be a great thing. Some guys aren't ready for that, but if that's what I need to do I think I would catch onto things pretty quick. I was a quarterback, so that gave me a lot of knowledge of the game."
This weekend's trip to Wisconsin will not just be a chance to visit the Badgers, but also will be a family reunion of sorts. Ball's older brother, Ray Ball, is an offensive lineman for Wisconsin and the two have seen each other only briefly since last winter.
"They've got good people up there," Ball said. "Obviously my brother, and Traevon Jackson - who I played with - plays on the Wisconsin basketball team. It's always good to get up there and see guys you've seen graduate before you in the same school. It's going to be fun experiencing that with [Ray], but because he is on the team that will be interesting."
The chance to play alongside his brother has started to appeal to Ball over the last few months, and he goes into this weekend's trip with the Badgers high on his list.
"Breaking down the pros and cons to all the schools, Wisconsin is pretty much at the top of all the schools," Ball said. "They are all great programs and it is just a blessing to have offers from them, but as far as the programs I have as a top five or top six, Wisconsin is definitely up there."
Ball expects to take all five official visits before rendering his final college selection. He has one of his three remaining trips already scheduled, and is still looking at who will receive the other two.
"I set up Arizona State for Dec. 7," Ball reported. "I definitely think Pitt will get an official and I am trying to see who else will get an official, whether it be Tennessee or Michigan State."
The recruiting process usually becomes burdensome for recruits this time of year, but Ball is still enjoying the opportunity.
"I've been exposed to a lot of blessings going through this process," Ball said. "Some kids look at it as a big sales pitch, but others like myself look at it as a blessing."
Ball's senior football season is complete, but he will juggle his recruiting process along with his basketball responsibilities for the next couple months. He has already started practices with Westerville South's basketball team, which plays their first game Nov. 30.