MIDWEST CITY — Trenton Ball can catch.
No, really, he can.
He has good hands, runs accurate routes, and his 6-foot-6 frame provides a big target with the strength to go over the middle.
Maybe the statistics don't effectively display the type of pass-catcher the Carl Albert tight end can be. Maybe last season's six catches for 80 yards and one touchdown don't overwhelm, considering many good receivers do more than that on one night.
Regardless of what the numbers suggest, make no mistake. Ball is the total package.
Playing for run-first head coach Gary Rose at Carl Albert, Ball wasn't asked to be a game-changing receiver. His job was to take on defensive linemen, open holes and make life easier for quarterback Stevie Thompson and the Titan running backs.
“We don't live on the pass, don't throw it a whole lot,” Rose said. “Trent's first job is to block. He knows that. All of our tight ends and receivers know that.
“If Trent improves more this year, like he did last year, he's gonna be big-time. He's got a lot of talent, a lot of athletic ability, a lot of toughness. If he can become one of those great tough guys with great blocking skills, he's gonna be really good.”
There's video proof of what Ball can do as a blocker, aiding an offense that rushed for more than 250 yards per game. But to showcase his receiving skills, he had to go to college camps and demonstrate his abilities.
So far, so good. Illinois coach Tim Beckman has extended a scholarship offer already, and several other Division I programs are keeping an eye on the lean 230-pound senior who is rated No. 24 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 recruit rankings for the class of 2014.
“Going to camps is how I got started in the recruiting process,” Ball said. “I went to the OU camp last year and they liked what I did, so that started it. I've been trying to go to a lot more camps this year to show coaches what I can do.
“I work out with my personal trainer, running routes and catching the ball a lot. He'll video that and send it to coaches, too. I'm a pretty good blocker, and that's my primary goal, so that's what I focus on.”
Ball wants to show colleges that he's a do-it-all tight end — block, catch and make plays when he gets the ball in his hands.
Again this year, Ball's first job will be blocking for Class 5A's defending champions. But if the Titans start seeing a lot of defenders crowding the line to stop that powerful rushing attack, Ball will be one of the first options in the passing game — because Rose sees the talent he has in his tight end.
“Stevie's gonna be a better quarterback, and we'll be able to be more play-action, sprint-out, boot, and Trent's gonna play a big role in that,” Rose said. “I believe he's gonna be a better receiver and we'll do a better job of getting him the ball.
“He has the potential to be a better receiver and a better blocker, and if he does that, he'll be all that the colleges think he's gonna be.”
No. 24: Trenton Ball
School: Carl Albert
Position: Tight end
Recruited by: Illinois has extended him an offer, and programs like Indiana, Kansas State, Purdue, Missouri and the state schools have shown interest.