Published March 9, 2011 - 5:32am
NEW: Discuss this topic in the Google+ community for SEC fans.
Saturday Down South is continually counting down the top 20 players in the SEC for 2011 – pre-season style!
Vick Ballard – No. 13
Vick Ballard quietly had a fantastic season last year for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, a season that saw the Bulldogs overachieve in the best division in the country. Ballard was recruited out of JUCO from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and he was part of the first recruiting class Dan Mullen brought home in Starkville.
Ballard has a great frame at 5-11, 215lbs, and he is very shifty after getting the football in the backfield. He’s not real speedy, but what he lacks in speed he makes up for with hard work and determination. He did major damage at running back in his first season at Mississippi State.
Ballard entered 2010 as the number two running back behind Robert Elliott, but after his dynamic game against Alcorn State, Ballard took over as the Bulldogs’ top ball carrier. During that game, Ballard carried the football for 119 yards and three touchdowns – including a 75-yard monster run. From then on, he never looked back. He was fifth in the conference in rushing with 968 rushing yards, and he finished first overall in total scoring and scoring touchdowns, with 19 rushing and one TD reception.
Ballard is not flashy, nor will he wow you continually, but he has the ability to break the big one. Mullen will feed him the football out of the backfield and let him plug along, only to break on eventually and leave the defense wondering what hit them.
Dan Mullen loves this kid, and everyone can certainly see why.
“He’s a hard-nosed player and that is what we have seen out of him all year long,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said of Ballard. “We know he is a workhorse.”
In 2011, I fully expect Ballard to be the horse that State needs, and Mullen will continue to utilize his talented running back and lean on him in his offensive game plan. If you can stop Vick Ballard, you will most likely stop Mississippi State.