Early in the second quarter of KU’s game against Texas Tech on Saturday, true freshman quarterback Cole Ballard took over for an injured Jason Bean. Ballard would put up a valiant effort over the next three quarters, but the Red Raiders would eventually come away with the 16-13 upset.
Before Saturday’s game, he had played about 10 snaps so far this year; one at Iowa State last week, at least one against Oklahoma State, and the rest in the home opener against Missouri State.
I don’t know much about Cole Ballard, but here’s what I could find.
Ballard came to Kansas out of Westfield, IN, a suburb of Indianapolis. His father is Chris Ballard, currently the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts. KU coach Lance Leipold and Chris Ballard have reportedly known each other for over 30 years.
Ballard had an excellent senior year in high school, passing for more than 1600 yards with 11 TDs, while rushing for over 600 yards with 13 TDs. That was more than enough for him to earn all-state honors in Indiana. A multi-sport athlete, Ballard excelled on the baseball field as well, showcasing a fastball that could hit 90 mph.
Cole Ballard was rated a 2-star recruit by Rivals, and not rated by 24/7. Still, he took official visits to Kansas and Wisconsin (his dad’s alma mater), and while neither offered a scholarship, he came to KU as a preferred walk-on. (This is notable because walk-ons, even preferred walk-ons, typically don’t get official recruiting visits.)
A summer arrival to KU, Ballard quickly worked his way up to taking snaps with the second and third teams, and according to Lance Leipold, won the third-string QB spot due to his performance in fall camp. Ballard is listed by KU at 6’2” and 225 lbs.
And that’s about all I can find.
According to Leipold in the Texas Tech postgame press conference, Jason Bean did not return to the Texas Tech game due to a head injury. Leipold did not comment further other than to say, “He’s feeling better. We’ll see from there.”
I don’t know how long it takes to clear the NCAA Concussion Safety Protocol. IF Bean has a concussion, and IF Bean is out next week, then the answer to the question is: Cole Ballard is your starting quarterback for the K-State game, with former 3-star QB Ben Easters the backup.