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Friday, March 1, 2013
First offer an emotional moment for Ballew

By Jared Shanker

Sitting in Algebra 2, the security guard came knocking on the door looking for Nilijah Ballew (Cincinnati/Walnut Hills). He was not in trouble -- quite the opposite actually.

Waiting for him outside was his coach, who had some good news to deliver.

“My coach was standing out there with the biggest smile on his face and I had no idea,” Ballew said. “He told me the good news and I got elated. It was an emotional moment.”

The news was that Louisville was offering Ballew, who was in search for his first scholarship.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound safety visited Louisville over the weekend, and he spent extensive time with Charlie Strong. The Cardinals coach visited Ballew’s school during the winter but could not speak with him because of NCAA rules.

“On the junior day I got a chance to talk to him and we hit it off instantly,” Ballew said. “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.”

Ballew was familiar with Louisville going into his junior day visit. He took in a game during the fall, so it was his second trip to Louisville.

Following his two visits, the Cardinals are making a big impression on Ballew, who also holds a Western Michigan offer.

“I like they’re going to 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,” Ballew said. “They’re en route to doing big things.”

Illinois and Indiana are also interested in Ballew, and he will visit Cincinnati for its junior day Saturday.

An ankle injury caused Ballew to miss the final five games of the season.