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Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage continuing to impress at Senior Bowl

Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage (7) sheds Utah defensive back Chase Hansen (22) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

During his time at Arizona State, Kalen Ballage was a solid college running back. His performance at the Senior Bowl indicates he could be more than that.

Ballage made a name for himself at ASU using a combination of athleticism and power. He has been electric in Senior Bowl practice, displaying his pure speed, ability to get to open lanes and versatility as a receiver.

Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports even went as far as to compare him to one of the premier backs in the NFL.

The Kalen Ballage train steamed ahead on Wednesday, as he continued to put his smooth athleticism on display in receiving drills and when he outran Oklahoma outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo downfield on a wheel route. The Arizona State specimen also dominated in the blitz pickup drill. He’s reminds me of David Johnson. That’s not exaggeration.

His max speed of 19.42 miles per hour clocked in as the second-fastest among running backs as of Wednesday morning.

Coaches, scouts and media alike have been impressed by Ballage’s first few practices in Mobile, Ala. Among those who have taken notice is Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph.

The athletic prowess of Ballage has never been in question. He has good lateral quickness and picks up steam going downhill but his running vision has left something to be desired. According to Chris Tripodi of draftanalyst.com, Ballage has made some improvements.

We’ve been critical of Ballage’s on-field performance during his career, but he flipped the script Tuesday. Ballage showed great burst through the hole, was quick in and out of cuts and displayed the speed to turn the corner … It’s not easy for running backs to stand out in padless practices, especially big ones, but Ballage did just that.

Ballage, who as a senior rushed for 669 yards on a 4.3 per carry average, has made waves as a pass-catching back. He had 64 total receptions in his last two seasons — in 2016 he recorded 469 receiving yards — and was able to create mismatches out of the backfield or downfield.

Given his athleticism and skill set, a strong showing in the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine will continue to improve his stock ahead of the NFL Draft.

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