MOBILE, Ala. — Moments after the horn sounded at the end of the 2019 Senior Bowl, Dalton Risner was teaching a lesson in how to pass block.
“You don’t want to be wide-kicking, getting your feet more spread apart because the further apart your feet are, the less of a base you have,” the Kansas State offensive lineman said following Saturday’s game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. “If a guy hits you and you’ve got a wide base, you’re more likely to go backwards. If a guy has a power, you’ve got to get your hands on him.
“A quicker guy, you have time to kick back and give some space. Those quick guys want some space. Give them their space and get to their spot before they can get there. Short-set a guy and get your hands on him and be prepared to anchor in there. You’ve got to be able to sink your hips and bend your knees.
“I’ll let a guy run circles all day,” Risner added. “If a guy wants to use speed, quarterbacks are smart enough to step up. I’m gonna let him run circles because they’re never going to get to my quarterback.”
Sometimes pass rushers do figure things out, and Wyoming’s Carl Granderson spun inside to get the only quarterback pressure Risner allowed Saturday. Risner’s postgame lesson was an example of a football IQ that impressed scouts and coaches.
“The Kansas State kid had a big-time week,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “I didn’t see Kansas State get beat the whole week. He was Steady Eddie.”
Risner also impressed Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who led the North team to a 34-24 victory over the South squad, coached by San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.
“He’s one of those guys who would stay out there and practice football all day,” Gruden said of Risner. “He is a legitimate tough guy who is smart and more athletic than I thought. He’s a guy every team would want on their squad.”
One of Risner’s North teammates was Washburn cornerback Corey Ballentine, who started Saturday’s game and finished with a team-high five tackles. He allowed a 15-yard completion from West Virginia’s Will Grier to South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel on the first play from scrimmage as Samuel got the inside position on a deep slant.
“Early in the week, there were some questions about how his speed was going to hold up, but he caught up to the speed of the game as the week went on,” Jeremiah, who was an NFL scout for eight years, said of Ballentine. “You saw him take steps every day.”
Jeremiah wanted to see Ballentine “get challenged vertically” in Saturday’s contest. He was challenged early in the third quarter by West Virginia’s Greg Jennings and broke up the pass, but was called for pass interference.
“Nothing happened, but they threw the flag,” Ballentine said. “I’m not sure. I’m not too upset about it. You live to play another down.”
Aside from the questionable penalty, Ballentine thought he held his own.
“I was out here, I was comfortable. It felt like a regular day to me,” Ballentine said following the game attended by 31,437 people. “Just regular football. I was definitely excited to be in this atmosphere. I’ve never played in a stadium with this many people. I’ve enjoyed the experience.”
Gruden offered unsolicited praise of Ballentine, saying the Shawnee Heights product did a “heck of a job” all week.
“Ballentine came in here out of Washburn, played left corner, right corner, helped himself on special teams. He’s got to continue to grow and learn, but I’m sure he’ll do that,” Gruden said Saturday. “He’s got the want-to inside. I’m impressed with him.”
Ballentine admitted to being a “little beat-up” after the week in Mobile and will focus on healing while he trains in Pensacola, Fla., before heading to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.
“I’m not too worried about it. I usually test well, so I think I’ll be straight,” Ballentine said. “I’m excited.”