The college football recruiting process can be filled with highs and lows for high school athletes across the country. The anticipation of waiting on that certain offer to come can be excruciating, and the payoff immediate and overwhelming. For 2014 safety prospect Nilijah Ballew, that offer finally came from Charlie Strong and the Louisville Cardinals.
His coach brought the news to him while Ballew sat in math class, pulling him into the hallway to tell him the exciting news. The young safety had no idea what his coach had in store for him, but could tell it was big by the smile on his face. When he learned he was getting an offer from the Cardinals, Ballew said it “was an emotional moment.”
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior has taken a couple of opportunities to visit the Louisville campus, and came away impressed both times. The first time was when Ballew took in a game this fall. He enjoyed himself enough to come back for his junior day visit and left even more impressed than before.
“On the junior day I got a chance to talk to him [Charlie Strong] and we hit it off instantly. He likes me and the offensive coordinator [Shawn Watson] recruits our area and told me Coach Strong likes me, I’m one of his favorites.
“I like they’re going the ACC my first year, which is a good conference and nice competition and I feel like it’ll make a way for them to improve. I like that about them. They’re en route to doing big things.”
And Strong looks ready to talk Ballew into joining them. The newly-extended Louisville coach has been able to build the Cardinals into a perennial Big East contender and a team that should be competitive from the get-go in the ACC. His ability to build relationships with recruits has been a major reason why.
While Ballew is enamored with Louisville, he’s still keeping his options open for now. He already holds an offer from the Western Michigan Broncos and has gotten interest from a pair of Big Ten schools in the Indiana Hoosiers and Illinois Fighting Illini.
But none of those schools have Charlie Strong recruiting for them, which puts them at a decided disadvantage.