Back in the day, it was common for high school athletes to compete on multiple sports teams in different seasons.
However, many athletes today find themselves being steered toward specializing in just one sport. That’s not the case with Penn State wrestling’s newest commit — Cedar Cliff’s Donovon Ball.
The senior plays football in the fall, baseball in the spring and wrestles in the winter.
Ball will continue wrestling into his college years as he committed to Penn State on Sunday. He will be a preferred walk on and is projected to compete at 184 pounds.
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“It’s pretty surreal,” Ball said. “It’s been a dream of mine my whole life to play sports at Penn State. It’s my favorite place in the world. It’s a dream come true. I’m just lost for words.”
Heading into his senior season on the mat, Ball is coming off his best season.
He finished 41-8 with a District 3, Section 3 182-pound title and worked his way to a fifth-place finish in the state in Class 3A action. Over half of Ball’s victories came with bonus points for the Colts. He pinned 10 opponents, had technical falls over seven others and beat four others by major decision.
Ball helped lead Cedar Cliff to a 21-3 record and a District 3 Class 3A team title. His dual-opening 1 minute, 2 seconds pin helped the Colts top Cumberland Valley 32-31 for that District 3 crown. However, they ultimately fell in the PIAA Class 3A consolations.
“I love to score points and go for those bonus points,” Ball said of fitting right into coach Cael Sanderson’s Penn State’s program. “If you watch Penn State wrestling, they always go for bonus points whenever they can. I’m a hard-working wrestler that loves the sport. I love competing with the best, getting better everyday and doing whatever I can to help my team and myself succeed.”
Ball said his dream was to play football for the Nittany Lions, but quickly realized it wasn’t going to be an option because of his stature. He is the starting fullback and middle linebacker for the Colts. They are 6-2 with one of those losses coming to Harrisburg, which topped State College 32-17 two weeks ago.
Ball has scored just two touchdowns — both receiving. He is third on the team with 117 yards receiving on just nine receptions.
His presence is felt more on the defensive side of the ball. Ball leads the team with 68 tackles — with 45 solo tackles. He also has a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss. His four sacks are tied for second on the team.
Ball feels his play on the football field translates well to wrestling.
“Obviously, tackling and double leg takedowns have a pretty good correlation,” Ball said with a laugh. “The grit and mental strength you have in wrestling definitely help me be more disciplined in football. Football, it’s a lot easier to get carried away (not doing your job). Wrestling is a team sport but ultimately it’s up to you.”
Follow Nate Cobler on Twitter all season long for Penn State wrestling updates.