BuckeyesNow visited Ohio State 2021 commit and SI All-American candidate Jayden Ballard Friday night, as his Massillon Washington team pulled away for a 28-10 victory over Benedictine High School from Cleveland.
Massillon led just 7-3 at halftime, but opened up the contest throughout the second half despite a relatively quiet evening (statistically, at least) from the future Buckeye wide receiver. Ballard, who was not made available for comments afterward, finished with three catches for 39 yards.
“A lot of things in football are situational, but he (Ballard) still led us in receiving,” Massillon head coach Nate Moore said. “We probably could have taken some more shots, but it’s always our plan to establish the run and then take what the defense gives in the passing game. We’ll get better at being balanced, and that comes with growing together over a season.”
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound prospect racked up most of that yardage on a long reception toward the end of the first quarter, breaking free behind the defense and corralling a pass inside the 10-yard line. That play ultimately led to the Tigers’ first touchdown.
Massillon relied heavily on the run game and a strong defensive effort, recording three interceptions and scoring all four TD’s on the ground. Ballard also stepped back to return punts and was aggressive with defensive backs on running plays.
“Coach (Brian) Hartline knows what he’s doing,” added Moore, when asked about Ballard’s development leading into college. “I think they are going to play him on the outside, probably at Z. I am happy for him and he’s going to be one of the good ones for Ohio State.”
The Buckeyes recently welcomed four quality wide receivers in their 2020 freshmen class, including standouts Julian Fleming and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Ohio State also has Marvin Harrison Jr. (Philadelphia, Pa.) secured in this 2021 cycle along with Ballard, and is firmly in the running for heralded target Emeka Egbuka (Steilacoom, Wash.)