Bloodlines run strong throughout college football, but few have been as successful as the Ball family.
Over the last 10 years, the Atlanta area family has sent brothers Reggie, Jr. (Georgia Tech), Raeshon (Chattanooga) and Marcus (Memphis) off to play collegiately.
And that trend will continue as younger brother Marcelino Ball, a 3-star safety out of Roswell, looks to carry on the family legacy.
“I think he takes very seriously the mental responsibility that comes with his family name,” Ball’s coach at Roswell High School, John Ford, told the AJC. “He works hard to carry on a legacy of hard work and dedication.”
It wouldn’t be too farfetched to say that the Ball — who currently holds offers from Appalachian State, Georgia State and, most recently, West Virginia — was motivated by his brothers to dawn a helmet and shoulder pads when he was a 12-year-old onlooker.
“I just remember going to one of Raeshon’s scrimmages when he was a junior, and watching him play linebacker,” Ball recalls.
Shortly thereafter, he was signing up for Pop-Warner football. His ideal position? Linebacker, of course.
“I didn’t know how to stand or anything,” Marcelino jokingly admits. “But they put it in me.”
Marcelino’s game has undoubtedly come a long way since then. The youngest Ball brother has developed a knack for physical play much like his brother Raeshon, along with Marcus, who currently plays for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
“They were so dominant on the field,” Marcelino said. “Literally, nobody could run their way, especially Marcus. That’s what everybody on defense wants, to have that reputation that nobody wants to run your way. And even if you don’t run their way, they’re going to hunt you down. That’s what Marcus was.”
Strangely, though, Marcelino chose Roswell over Stephenson High School (Stone Mountain), a school his father, Reggie Ball, Sr., has coached at for 14 seasons and where each of his brothers attended. He lives with his mother and he wanted to make a name for himself.
“It was admirable,” Ball, Sr., admits.
Living up to the “lineage”, his father says, comes with the territory of being a Ball boy, and Marcelino understood that when he entered high school.
“It’s the brand,” Ball, Sr. said. “When he was a baby and the boys were smaller, we’d always say, ‘Listen, we’ve got to get ourselves a facility and call it ‘Ball Game’. That’s what we do. When we get into a game, it’s our Ball game.”
And Marcelino has done his best to adopt that mindset. He admits that his brothers’ accolades and reputation, specifically Marcus’, motivate him to be better, and that motivation will ultimately lead to more programs taking notice of his ability.Though he already concedes that his “recruitment has been getting wider” as of late.
Just this past week, Ball took back-to-back visits to Auburn (July 23) and North Carolina (July 24) and remarks that they were both very positive. If they like what they see from him this upcoming year, he believes they’ll offer.
One school he was certain to receive traction from after attending the team’s junior day was Memphis, a school Marcus found stardom at after signing with FSU out of high school.. Marcelino says he had positive conversations with the coaching staff throughout the Memphis camp, and says they even told him that he reminded them of Marcus.
But the comparison didn’t lead to the offer he was expecting. He was surprised.
“It was kind of ironic,” Marcelino said. “To have a brother who played well up there, and they didn’t offer me.”
While he says he hasn’t heard much from Memphis since that camp, he’s feeling very fortunate after receiving an offer from West Virginia this past week. Ball told the AJC that he was supposed to take a trip to WVU a day after visiting UNC, but was unable to make it.
He offered up Middle Tennessee, Georgia Southern, UNC Charlotte and Ball State as schools that he could see himself playing for, although he only holds offers from one of those schools (Georgia Southern). At this juncture of the recruiting process, Ball says it’s a wait-and-see situation.
Added Ball: “I really don’t know. I’m trying to narrow it down to at least two.”
There’s no question, though, that Marcelino is determined to make it four-for-four as long as he follows some sage advice his brothers gave him.
“Wherever the ball is, that’s where you should be,” Ball says they told him. “Even if it’s in the air. Whoever is holding it, be there.”
— By Charles Kingsbury, Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution