The Bowling Green Falcons are losing several pieces out of a star-studded defensive backfield that helped lead BGSU to the Mid-American Conference's best defense in 2012 and 2013. Among the losses are Cameron Truss, Josh Pettus and Jerry "Boo Boo" Gates, so it was imperative that new head coach Dino Babers work to find recruits for 2014 that would help replace those losses.
The Falcons already had verbals from four defensive backs, but the fifth commit is likely the most important. Just days after de-committing from Louisville, Rivals.com four-star safety Nilijah Ballew committed to Bowling Green.
Walnut Hills strong safety Nilijah Ballew verbally commits to Bowling Green #enqr http://t.co/EAquzuSPgC via @Enquirer— Mike Dyer (@MikeDyer) February 3, 2014
Ballew visited campus last weekend and, rather than wait for an offer from Indiana that might not come, he chose to give his verbal to Babers and the Falcons. He originally committed to Charlie Strong and the Louisville Cardinals before the end of his junior year at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, after Strong left for Texas and Louisville (re-) hired Bobby Petrino, Ballew reportedly felt like he was being ignored and was no longer wanted by the Cardinals. Our friends over at fellow SB Nation blog Card Chronicle reported this at the end of last week.
As noted above, Rivals.com lists Ballew as a four-star prospect and ranks him 27th nationally among all safeties. He's ranked 18th in the state of Ohio. Other sites, such as 247Sports, list him as a three-star recruit and give his height and weight as 6-1 and 180. Rivals lists Ballew as 6-1 but gives a weight of 199. They also give him a rating of 5.8 on a scale of 6.1. According to their chart, that equates to a high-major prospect with pro potential.
Given the losses at the position, this could be a huge development for the Falcons. If Ballew can come in and bulk up a little during the summer, it's entirely possible that he could play right away and quickly become an impact player. It certainly doesn't hurt that Bowling Green has retained Nick Monroe as secondary coach from Dave Clawson's BGSU staff.
Ballew was not the only verbal the Falcons picked up in the last few days. On Saturday, offensive lineman DeAngelo Ware (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), committed to Bowling Green.
#BGSU adds a commitment from Cleveland Heights, Ohio OL DeAngelo Ware http://t.co/HAlWwfCVLQ— Josh Helmholdt (@JoshHelmholdt) February 1, 2014
Outside of the defensive backfield, the offensive line is where Bowling Green is taking the heaviest and most important losses from their 2013 championship team. Gone will be starters Dominic Flewellyn and David "Chief" Kekuewa, two players who held down the interior of BGSU's line and did a fantastic job protecting Matt Johnson and paving the way for Falcon running backs.
Ware is listed by Rivals.com as 6-5, 310, so he would outsize both starters being lost. Little other info appears to be available about him, but Rivals gives him two stars and a rating of 5.3 (out of 6.1). There will undoubtedly be competition for playing time on the offensive line, especially with a new offense in place, and the Falcons have a history of younger linemen getting playing time. On the surface, Ware might seem to be a redshirt candidate, but if he impresses in fall camp, he could be in the mix to replace Flewellyn and Kekuewa.