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2014 Bowling Green Football Recruiting: Falcons Offer Opportunity to Nilijah Ballew

After backing out of a verbal with Louisville, four-star safety Nilijah Ballew decided to verbal to Bowling Green.

Four-star recruit Nilijah Ballew said Bowling Green's recent dominance helped him sign with the Falcons.
Four-star recruit Nilijah Ballew said Bowling Green's recent dominance helped him sign with the Falcons.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine finding out a week and half before signing day that your first-choice school wanted to back out of an offer.

Welcome to Nilijah Ballew's world.

On Monday, the Rivals four-star safety de-committed from Louisville in favor of Bowling Green. In a phone interview with Hustle Belt, Ballew explained what led to his decision, just days before National Signing Day.

"With Louisville, (I left with) the whole coaching change," Ballew said. "Basically, I was going there for coach (Charlie) Strong, so that's why I committed so early. But then I figured I shouldn't just commit to a coach because coaches can leave early."

Ballew committed to the Cardinals in April 2013, and said he was shocked when he learned Strong took the coaching vacancy at Texas in early Janurary, and expected the Cardinals to hire one of the coordinators already with the Louisville program.

"When (Bobby) Petrino was hired, he started calling players, but he didn't call a bunch of recruits," Ballew continued. "People were de-committing left and right, and I didn't get a call until the next week."

When Petrino's staff did call the Walnut Hills High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) product, they told him that they were switching their defense to a new scheme and needed linemen. Ballew knew it was the perfect time to leave. He visited Indiana on January 17, but said the Hoosiers didn't offer any players that visited that weekend.

While on a visit to Bowling Green two weeks later, he heard there were spots available for the Falcons and said he liked the school.

"This could be the place," Ballew said, referencing Bowling Green. "(The Falcons) win. It's Division I, and they went 10-4 last year. I have a chance to play for a conference championship every year."

In addition to his four-star ranking by, Ballew was ranked the 27th best safety nationally. He's also ranked 18th overall in Ohio. Rivals rated him a 5.8 on a scale of 6.1, which by their standards means he is a high-major prospect with pro potential.

Despite Louisville kicking him to the curb, he's found a lot of positives out of the whole situation.

"When it's all said and done, this just gives me more motivation and I'm really, really thankful to Bowling Green for giving me the opportunity, and I appreciate it," he said. "They gave me a sense of opportunity."