Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage Diagnosed With Mono


Arizona State just got sucker punched.

Minutes before their season-opening loss to Texas A&M on Saturday night, the Devils announced that key running back Kalen Ballage was not with the team and had been taken back to Tempe. The official report at the time was “illness,” but according to a recent report from Ballage has been diagnosed with mononucleosis and could miss an unknown amount of time.

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According to, mononucleosis is normally spread through saliva, most often from coughing or sneezing and it is contagious but isn’t as contagious as things like the common cold. Its symptoms include fatigue, feelings of illness, fever, headache, skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes and spleens. Mono can typically last anywhere from 4-6 weeks. The more minor symptoms can go away quickly, but the enlarged spleens and lymph nodes take longer to go away.

Best-case scenario, Ballage could return to the Devils by the beginning of Pac-12 play but the worst-cast is that he could be lost for the entire season.

This comes as a huge blow to Arizona State. The 6-3, 230 pound sophomore running back didn’t see much time in 2014, tallying 126 rushing yards with 1 TD and also showed some versatility with 64 receiving yards and 1 TD. Regardless, Coach Graham has stressed all throughout the preseason practices that Ballage was one of the most improved players on the team. In the Devils Sun Bowl victory over Duke in 2014, Ballage sparked a rally with a 96 yard kickoff return that showed the potential he can have in this offense.

Arizona State still has some options. They already have Demario Richard who racked up 76 yards against the A&M front line on Saturday and they could potentially use true freshman Jason Lewis who’s 6-3, 245 pound frame is very similar to Ballage.

At least for the next two games, this does not spell doom and gloom for the Devils. They should still be able to beat Cal Poly and New Mexico handily with or without Ballage. All of that changes when USC comes to town. Still they have plenty of time to figure out different moves to help bolster the tailback position, but for now the best anyone can do is wait and see what happens.