Former Mississippi State tailback Vick Ballard was drafted by Indianapolis with the 35th and final pick of the fifth round in the NFL Draft. He was the 170th pick overall.
Ballard, who played two years at MSU after transferring from Gulf Coast Community College, is a native of Pascagoula. He rushed for 1,189 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and he also had 20 catches for 187 yards and a TD. In 2010, he had 968 rushing yards and scored a school-record 20 touchdowns, 19 of them rushing (also a record).
The wait was tough for Ballard, who some predicted could be taken in the fourth round.
"I was nervous the whole time," he said in a phone interview from a friend's house in Vancleave. "It was kind of, I don't know. Just a lot of emotions and thoughts going through my head while I was sitting there waiting."
One of those emotions was anger. Ballard was an overlooked commodity coming out of both high school and junior college.
"At first I kind of got mad, then I was like, well, it's no different than what I've been going through my whole football career," he said. "The only thing I can do is get ready to work, go in and do the best that I could. Right when I started thinking that, that's when they gave me a call."
Ballard spoke with Colts officials just before the pick was announced, including two coaches, although he couldn't remember which ones.
"They were just saying I represent what it means to be a Colt, and I'm part of the family now."
Ballard was the sixth player chosen by the Colts in this draft, and the fifth offensive player. Indy, of course, drafted Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick on Thursday.
Donald Brown led the Colts in rushing last season with 645 yards and five TDs. Joseph Addai had 433 yards, while Delone Carter gained 377. Addai is a free agent and looks to be moving on.
Ballard will begin his work this weekend when he travels to Indianapolis for rookie minicamp. He's hoping to show the Colts "that they didn't waste their draft pick."
Indianapolis had a 2-14 mark last fall – tied with St. Louis for worst in the league – as quarterback Peyton Manning sat out the season with a neck injury. He's now with Denver.
• Safety Charles Mitchell, a three-year starter for State, was selected by Atlanta with the 22nd pick of the sixth round (192nd overall). Mitchell recorded 95 tackles (second on the team), 3.0 tackles-for-loss and three pass breakups last season.