Ball picks Dawgs over Tigers

Neland Ball

JACKSON – It was only a matter of time, according to Jackson High School head coach Mike Parris – before college coaches would find out. First came Auburn, and then Georgia; then everyone was finding out about the best-kept secret in middle Georgia high school football.

"I knew they would find out about him," Parris said with a smile.

And find out they did.

Only three weeks after Georgia's summer camp, Neland Ball turned the Tigers down and committed to the Bulldogs. Ball's pledge gives the Bulldogs their 11th verbal commitment for the class of 2007, which signs letter-of-intent documents this February.

The Bulldogs have had at least one commitment every week since their summer camp ended. Georgia has picked up three three-star prospects and a four-star prospect (Logan Gray) in July. Ball committed silently to the Dawgs last week, but indicated he was not comfortable going public with his decision until he told the Auburn staff the decision he had made.

"When I went to Georgia I felt at home," Ball said. "And that made my decision easy."

Willie Martinez recruited Ball for the Bulldogs, but was helped along by the 16-year old's relationship with his future position coach Jon Fabris.

"He's a good guy – real down to Earth," said Ball. "I really felt like he has been honest with me through all of this."

Fabris has guided defensive ends David Pollack, Charles Grant and most recently Quentin Moses to stellar careers in Athens. Ball indicated that past performance of Bulldog defensive ends made it easier for him to pick the Dawgs.

If there is one negative on Ball at the moment it might be his slender size. At a reported 6-6, 218, the youngster may seem frail, but he's confident that over time he'll grow into his massive frame.

"I know that when I hit college they are going to have me eating--and eating the right foods. They are going to have me in the weight room," Ball said. "I think I am going to get to about 250 or 260-something."

Parris said Ball is one of the hardest workers he's been around since starting in coaching nearly two decades ago. Parris knows a little about talent combined with hard work as he was former Bulldog great Hines Ward's high school coach at Forrest Park.

"If those doors are open," Parris said pointing to the weight room doors just below Jackson's Red Devil Hill, "he's in there."

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