The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have officially hired an associate director of strength and conditioning who most recently worked with elite high school athletes.
The hire was announced today during Brian Kelly’s news conference.
Dave Ballou was the physical conditioning coach at IMG Academy, which has enough 2017 talent to make a top 5 college class if its elite athletes all committed to a single institution.
The Bradenton, Fla. high school was the last stop for Tony Jones Jr., Spencer Perry and Robert Hainsey before they committed to the Irish. It also employs Maurice Stovall, who played wideout for the Irish from 2002 to 2005.
The Irish were considering taking a portion of their spring camp to IMG, but Kelly said today that won’t be happening. “I don’t want to be that team that does something they’ve (the NCAA) just legislated out,” said the coach.
Hiring Ballou will strengthen the university’s connection to the elite high school and also provides a level of comfort for the three student-athletes from IMG who have already enrolled. Considering Ballou’s pedigree and his connections, it can only be seen as a positive.
Ballou will serve under Matt Balis, who the university announced as the team’s new director of football performance Jan. 19. Balis replaced Paul Longo, a longtime assistant to and personal friend of Coach Brian Kelly. Kelly said today that Longo is on “long-term disability.”
Irish Illustrated’s Pete Sampson said Ballou’s hiring could have been delayed by pending NCAA legislation that would prevent college programs from hiring high school coaches unless they were given full-time jobs. The proposed punishment? A two-year ban from recruiting at that school.
Ballou came from Avon High School (Indianapolis, Ind.), where he spent 15 years as the school’s head strength coach, defensive coordinator, running backs coach and linebackers coach. During his tenure, Avon won six team state championships across all sports and finished second seven separate times.
Ballou is a former Indiana University fullback who played three years with the Hoosiers and is a 2001 graduate of that institution.
Ballou’s pupils took to social media as news of his promotion spread:
Dave Ballou, former Strength and Conditioning Coach of Avon is NOW the Associate Director of Strength and Conditioning NOTRE DAME. pic.twitter.com/AszWNaNZuo— Avon QB Club (@AvonQBClub) January 26, 2017
Congrats to this guy @IMG_CoachBallou on the new job! #GoIrish pic.twitter.com/xm0XaMv3y9— Thomas Williams (@T_Raww50) January 26, 2017
Thanks 4 always pushing me to be the best and getting me closer to where I want to be as a football player u will be missed @IMG_CoachBallou— I C Y❄️ (@RUnije) January 26, 2017
Big thank you to @IMG_CoachBallou this man may be the best in the country at what he does. Wishing the best for you in the future!— Zack Annexstad (@Zannex9) January 26, 2017
It's crazy to think about the progress I've made since When I got to IMG. Huge thanks to @IMG_CoachBallou I wish you nothing but the best!— Ⓜ️ike Jones Jr (@_mjones24) January 26, 2017