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Ballenger to continue football career at Franklin

Shelbyville senior Xain Ballenger, middle, sits with teammates Nick Brokering, left, and Damon Lux, right, at his college signing recently. Ballenger will continue his football career at Franklin College.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

Mothers always seem to know what is best.

Kellie Pittman knew her son had the talent and passion needed to play at the next level. He just needed a little push.

Shelbyville senior Xain Ballenger, with a little encouragement from his mom, recently signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his football career at Franklin College. Ballenger said, after taking a few weeks off after the season, he was unsure what to do next. His mom was there to help. 

“Originally, I didn’t really have plans to play college football,” Ballenger said. “I didn’t think I was good enough. My mom, she kept pushing me. She said 'make a tape, send it to the coaches and take that chance'.

“One of the first (colleges) to respond was Franklin. My mom was really the driving force. She is always trying to build my confidence up. She said she knew I would miss the game.”

After receiving little playing time as a sophomore at Shelbyville, Ballenger, an offensive and defensive lineman, started as a junior and was named to the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team as a senior. He finished with over 30 tackles in nine games this season and helped the Golden Bears offense rack up over 1,700 yards rushing yards.

Shelbyville finished the last two seasons with a 7-3 record.

“My senior year I definitely played better,” Ballenger said. “I was more in shape, and we did everything we could to try and get a win. We fell short (in the sectional), but it is a building point for me. It is a motivator. I know I don’t want a season to end early.”

Former Golden Bears head coach Pat Parks would have college programs visit during the season. Ballenger knew what was out there, he was just unsure if he could actually play.

After sending film, Hanover, DePauw and Manchester, to name a few, were also interested in the 6-foot-1, 270-pound lineman.

“They liked my aggression,” said Ballenger, who plans to study radio broadcasting at Franklin. “There is no better feeling than pancaking someone. One thing I do need to work on is my footwork. I am going to that this offseason."

Hearing the opinion of other coaches has helped Ballenger find the right mindset. He feels his pull potential has yet to be unleashed.

“I had some doubts in my head in high school that made me hesitate,” Ballenger said. “But I gave it my all every game. Going forward, I am going to ask every question I can. I am going to stay late and look at film and do whatever I can to get the drive I know I can get.”

Ballenger will play against former Shelbyville teammate Nick Brokering next season. Brokering signed with Mount St. Joseph. Both schools compete in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Ballenger and Brokering have played together since their very first football team at the Boys' Club.

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.