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McShay: ASU’s Kalen Ballage is the sixth-best NFL Draft prospect at RB

(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

ASU senior running back Kalen Ballage is ready to prove his worth to NFL teams. Arguably, he’s already proved that after scoring 14 rushing touchdowns last season, a total that ranked 26th nationally and second in the Pac-12 Conference.

ESPN’s Todd McShay, as part of his 2018 draft position rankings, released his top 10 running back prospects on Tuesday, just 16 days before the new college football season kicks off.

Arizona State standout running back Kalen Ballage cracked the list at No. 6.

Ballage has a rare blend of size (6-foot-2, 233 pounds) and speed, which makes him a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. He runs too high at times and needs to take better care of the ball (1.9 percent career fumble rate).

Entering his senior season, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Ballage made national headlines last season. On Sept. 10 against Texas Tech in Tempe, the Peyton, Colo., native notched eight total touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving), which matched the FBS record for total touchdowns in a single game.

In his first three seasons as a Sun Devil, Ballage totaled 1,315 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns in 34 games. Across 293 attempts, Ballage averaged 4.5 yards per carry and 38.7 yards per game.

The former three-star recruit, according to Scout.com, enters his final year in maroon and gold on the Maxwell Award watch list, an honor given to college football’s player of the year.

In order to contend for that award and perhaps to raise his NFL draft stock, Ballage will need to earn the bulk of ASU’s carries. But, with Demario Richard back for his senior season and freshman Eno Benjamin making an impression on head coach Todd Graham, it appears Ballage will have to share the load.

Whether or not Ballage can meet or exceed McShay’s ranking remains to be seen.

Heading into the season, however, he ranks only behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, LSU’s Derrius Guice, Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Iowa’s Akrum Wadley on the draft expert’s list of best running backs who could enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

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