When the New York Giants selected Washburn defensive back Corey Ballentine in the sixth round of this year’s NFL Draft, they know they were getting a dynamic athlete who could help them in multiple ways.
Ballentine, whose 4.47 speed helped the Icabods’ track team take the state title in the 4×100 as a senior, was not only the 2018 Cliff Harris Award winner as the “Small College Defensive Player of the Year” last year, he made his name both a gunner and a returner on special teams.
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein had Ballentine pegged as a fourth round selection, meaning the Giants under-drafted another player, aka a ‘steal’.
In 2017, Ballentine ranked fifth in Division II by averaging 30.6 yards per kick return (23-703). He had less success returning kicks in 2018 (24-463-19.8), but he was a terror on special teams with three blocked kicks.
With Corey Coleman out for the season with a torn ACL, the kickoff and punt return slots are open this summer at Giants camp and Ballentine’s name is echoing throughout the building as he makes his mark on both defense and teams.
It’s just natural for the Giants to slide Ballentine into the several special teams roles. He is finally getting back to football after getting shot in the glute the night after he was drafted by the Giants, an incident that took the life of his friend and college teammate, Dwane Simmons.
The Giants have been trying several players at kick returner, where Coleman excelled in 2018. Safety Jabrill Peppers is one and now Ballentine will be another. Just another example of what the Giants prioritize in the players they are bringing in these days.