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August 01. 2013 8:26PM

Ex-UNH star David Ball flew like an Eagle to join old coach Kelly


UNH's David Ball looks towards quarterback Ricky Santos on the sidelines after Ball made his 51st touchdown reception vs. Richmond in the third quarter of Saturday's game in Durham on Oct. 7, 2006. (MARK BOLTON/Union Leader File)

When Chip Kelly was hired as the head coach of the Eagles in January, David Ball had a feeling. He knew he had to be ready.

“What went into my mind was I won’t be able to stomach it if I get a call and I’m not ready,” Ball said. “So, be ready.”

Ball was a receiver at the University of New Hampshire from 2003-06 when Kelly was the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator.

Kelly had a pass-heavy offense back then and Ball still holds the Division I-AA record for touchdown receptions (58) and is second all time in receiving yards with 4,655, 38 behind Jerry Rice.

Should the Eagles be shopping for a receiver?

Yes. The loss of Jeremy Maclin is huge.

No. Riley Cooper or someone else will fill the void.

Ball wasn’t drafted out of college but signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent in 2007. He was cut that same year and spent time on the New York Jets practice squad but never played a down in a regular-season game.

Since then he has played in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League.

He was on a family vacation in Maine when the call from Kelly came. The coach needed his services at Eagles training camp. Ball cut his vacation short, and hopped on a plane from the two-terminal, Bangor, Maine, airport. He signed Saturday with the Birds.

“Chip and I have followed one another’s careers since we left one another at UNH,” the 29-year-old Ball said. “I’ve certainly bounced around and had my fair share of stops. I watched him at Oregon. I had a feeling with some of the things that he was doing that I would get an opportunity.

“I just wanted to make sure that if I was ever in the back of his mind as the guy that he wanted to bring in, because it is a passing offense, an offense that is fun to run, that I would make sure I was ready.”

Ball says there are many differences in the offense Kelly runs.

“It’s not cookie cutter,” Ball said. “It changes every year, he changes what he does. That is one of the difficult things about his offense.

“A few times in the meetings I have heard some concepts that he has clearly lived by, that have stuck with him from New Hampshire that he is still using, that people are buying into not because it sounds good, but because they believe it. That’s how he portrays it. He believes in his system.”

Ball says he has felt good in camp, and is looking to show Kelly that he is the type of player the Eagles need.

“He is looking for a guy who is going to go out and make plays,” Ball said. “Go out and catch the football. I think he wants a guy that is going to be a playmaker. He’s put it this way many times: the best ability is durability. He wants guys who are going to be there. He wants guys he can count on. To him, that makes his job easier.”


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