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Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage hopes to leave mark at combine

If you don't know who Kalen Ballage is now, you'll probably have a better idea after the NFL scouting combine later this month.

That's the opinion of analyst Lance Zierlein, who believes the imposing Arizona State running back could emerge as a combine star in Indianapolis after having already turned heads at the Senior Bowl last month.

"Ballage isn't necessarily a 'hot name' right now," Zierlein wrote Friday, "but teams are already starting to talk about him after some of the reps he put on tape last month."

Ballage, who tied the FBS record for the most touchdowns (eight) in a single game in 2016, is expected to maintain that momentum as part of a deep and talented class of running backs. Though Ballage split carries during most of his career at Arizona State, he combined for 1,005 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns two seasons ago. There's also a growing sense that — thanks to a special combination of size, speed and athleticism — he could rise up draft boards in the coming months.

"The dream for me is just to be at that top level," Ballage said at the Senior Bowl. "Be a Pro Bowler, win a Super Bowl. Every highest achievement you can reach, that's what I want to reach ultimately."

At the very least, Ballage looks the part at 6-foot-2, 227 pounds. Zierlein described the running back as being built like a "Greek God" and expects him to test well at the combine. Ballage has also proven his worth on the field. In four seasons, he ran for 1,984 yards, totaled another 684 yards receiving and combined for 29 touchdowns.

That versatility, of course, could pay dividends as teams look to add running backs that play effectively in both the run and pass games. "He's an extremely talented receiver. He will be a workout warrior at the combine, and when he puts on a show at the event, I expect comparisons to (Cardianls running back) David Johnson will start to surface," Zierlein wrote. "However, while Ballage has pass-catching talent, his lack of vision and consistency as a running back preclude me from making that comparison."

Those are the kinds of questions Ballage hopes to answer at the combine. He's plenty confident he'll do so, too.

"There might not be a lot of people who don't know what I'm capable of doing," he said, "but hopefully they will soon."

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