|SM East's Kyle Ball. Photo Marisa Walton,|
Position: Defensive End
Weight: 235 lbs.
Mike Rivera, SM Northwest (2001-2003); Mike Ruder, Lawrence Free State (2004-2006)
The returning Sunflower League Defensive Player of the Year has another season to exert his will on the rest of the league. Gulp. There probably won't be a better defensive player in the league next fall, and he'll contend for being the state's top player as well. He's also drawing serious interest from some of the local FBS programs, and could have an offer(s) by summer's end.
What Ball gives you is a relentless pass rusher and run defender on the defensive line, who covers as much ground as an outside linebacker, and has the strength to match up with any offensive lineman in the league. It's really quite remarkable how quickly he can get from point A to point B on a football field, and when he gets there he leaves a mark.
Last fall Ball totaled 107 tackles and eight sacks, including 28 tackles for loss. The first two numbers are impressive, but the tackles for loss category is almost unheard of. For reference, Jadaveon Clowney -- arguably the most heralded defensive end recruit of the last 25 years, and the first overall pick in last week's NFL Draft -- recorded 23 tackles for loss as a junior. I'm not saying Ball is similar to Clowney in any way, shape or form, but I am suggesting Ball's production is really, really impressive and shouldn't be overlooked.