Just hours after he was drafted by the Giants, college-football standout Corey Ballentine went from a “dream” come true to a waking nightmare when he was shot in a murky attack that left his roommate and former teammate dead, officials said Sunday.
The cornerback from Washburn University in Kansas had just been snagged by Big Blue in Saturday’s sixth-round of the NFL draft and was out celebrating with former teammate Dwane Simmons at an off-campus party when shots rang out on a Topeka street around 12:45 a.m. Sunday, authorities said.
The shooting occurred just a half-mile from the school, where Ballentine and Simmons, both 23, were roommates and once patrolled the defensive backfield together for the Ichabods.
Ballentine was transported to the hospital in a private car.
Details of what prompted the gunplay were scarce as cops investigated the shooting involving Ballentine, a senior, and Simmons, a junior.
After being drafted Saturday, Ballentine had tweeted, “It’s all a crazy dream until you do it. Thank you to the Giants organization for believing in me.
“It’s only up from here.”
On the Washburn campus, where Kansas-raised Ballentine rose from Division II obscurity to the 180th overall NFL pick — the highest-ever for an Ichabod — there was no shortage of tears as the grim news replaced a scheduled 3 p.m. press briefing on Ballentine’s getting drafted.
“Any time we lose a student, it is a sad occasion, but it is particularly poignant to lose a student through such a senseless act,” wrote school President Dr. Jerry Farley in a statement.
“Both Dwane and Corey have been great examples and representatives of the football team and of Washburn University in general.
“This was a terrible way to end a day which should have been a day of celebration and a day to look forward to Dwane’s upcoming year at Washburn and the beginning of Corey’s professional career.”
Farley noted that Ballentine is expected to make a full recovery, though it wasn’t immediately clear where he was shot or what effect the wound might have on his gridiron aspirations.
“Are you healthy [and] ready to play?” Giants’ coach Pat Shurmur had asked Ballentine in a video of their first phone call after the G-Men announced the pick and before the shooting.
“Yes, sir, I’m ready to get started,” Ballentine responded. “I’ve been waiting on this opportunity for a lifetime.”
The Jamaican-born Ballentine was similarly enthusiastic when discussing his selection with the press.
“It was surreal,” Ballentine said of getting the call from Shurmur. “I’m sure you have heard it a lot, but this is something I have always dreamed of.”
The Giants have been in touch with Ballentine as he recuperates in a Kansas hospital.
“We are aware of the tragic situation and continue to gather information,” the statement read. “We have spoken to Corey, and he is recovering in the hospital.”
The team also sent their condolences to those close to Simmons, whose own college gridiron heroics were hampered by nagging knee injuries.
“Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community,” the statement read.