July 28, 2021

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Meet Caleb Huntley, Ball State’s bruising RB…

6 min read
Meet Caleb Huntley, Ball State’s bruising RB...


When Caleb Huntley comes running at you, good luck. It’s going to be quite a challenge to bring him down.

With two 1,000-yard seasons to his name and 2,902 yards in 33 games for Ball State, Huntley hopes to carry on his production to the NFL level. He can project as a short-yardage back at the NFL level due to his powerful running style and decisiveness in between the tackles, but he has flashed enough juice to take on a bigger role if necessary.

Draft Wire had the chance to speak with Huntley on his preparation for the NFL Draft, his experience at the College Gridiron Showcase, how fatherhood has molded him as a person, and more.

JI: You’re a powerful runner, but you’re still a great athlete coming out of the backfield. How do you work on continuing to add muscle onto your frame without sacrificing your speed?

CH: Honestly, I don’t know. I couldn’t answer that because I’ve always been able to run pretty well, so even when I gained weight – when I got to 230 [pounds] this past season – my speed didn’t really decrease from the year before, and my coaches could see that. I really don’t know what point my speed would decrease if I gained weight.

JI: You made the tough decision to opt out of the MAC title game this year. What went into that decision?

CH: Ultimately, I had to sit back and do some thinking, but a lot of people don’t know that in the second game of the season that we had at Eastern Michigan, I took a hit, actually catching a pass. But it was super delayed, so it was set up [easily] for the defender to make his hit on me. He hit me in an awkward position, and my rib fractured. I didn’t really know until after the game, but after the game, I was walking home from the stadium, and it was super cold, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I knew something was going on, like my rib was fractured or broken because I had hurt my ribs at camp that year, and it didn’t feel anything like that.

Fast forward, I played another game at NIU, and it was just miserable playing in that game. I mean, I had a pretty decent game, but I just felt like it was a bad game because I wasn’t able to do the things I could normally do running the ball, and I felt like every time I was hitting the turf, my ribs were popping out. It was just bad, so I decided to get a second opinion. The first opinion I got, the doctors said they didn’t see anything. Then, I went again and got a second one, and that’s when they found a fracture. I kept trying to battle through it for a couple weeks. I tried to practice, I even got a ribcage made for myself, but nothing was working. I just made the decision to opt out. I had to weigh my options. I have a son, as well, so I had to make sure I was doing the best thing for me.

Syndication: Muncie

JI: How is the progress with your ribs coming along?

CH: Yeah, I feel like it’s completely healed now. It really took about two weeks after I got [treatment] to feel pretty good. Now, I feel better than I did playing football at the beginning of the season.

JI: You mentioned your son, and he had surgery during your 2020 season. How did you balance such a crucial time as a parent with such an important season in your journey to the pros?

CH: When he was born, he had a condition where his soft spot in his head, it closed up prematurely. [The surgery was to] recreate soft spots in his head so when he got older, his brain would have room to grow. That’s what they did, and it’s a common procedure. I wasn’t super worried, but as a father, you never want to see your little guy go through pain of any type, so that was something I was worried about during preparation for games. He actually got surgery before my first game at Miami of Ohio, so I just wanted to make sure I had a great game on his behalf, and I ended up having a pretty good game.

But caring for him, it was tough, because there was stuff we couldn’t do. We couldn’t wash his head, and he had to wear a scarf around his head for a while, but now he’s doing a whole lot better. He’s back to normal. I feel like he’s advanced for his age; he’s doing a lot of stuff on his own right now that I’ve never seen a 7-month-old baby do, so I’m just waiting for him to grow.

JI: How has fatherhood molded you as a person?

CH: As a person, it made me grow up faster. I was already mature for my age, but having him has made me grow even more. Before I had him, I used to go out occasionally. I used to chill and kick it with my teammates or friends, but once he was born, I shut all that down because I knew that what I had wanted to do didn’t really matter no more, and it was all about him. It shifted my focus to being a provider and to put him in a better position than I was when I was growing up.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

JI: You recently had the chance to participate in the College Gridiron Showcase. How was that experience?

CH: It was just a good experience, talking to scouts and being able to showcase some abilities that people didn’t think I had. I feel like it was a good feeling for me as a player, and learning about the process and the game at the next level.

JI: Between the Showcase and your collegiate play, who’s the toughest defender you’ve gone up against?

CH: There was a defensive tackle that played for Illinois my freshman year, he smacked me pretty good, I ain’t gonna lie [laughs]. He broke my facemask, and that was like my “welcome to college” moment. That was probably the toughest defender I faced.

JI: You mentioned that you tend to stay in now that you have a son. How else do you like to spend your free time outside of football?

CH: Outside of football, I’m a real big family person. Honestly, I just like to cook or watch TV or go fishing. Just some laid-back stuff. I’m a pretty laid-back person.

JI: Let’s say I’m an NFL general manager. What would I be getting if I drafted you to my team?

CH: Just an all-around good dude. A good teammate, a person who’s going to challenge every person on the team I’m going against because of the way that I practice. I practice the same way that I play in a game. All I know is full speed, for real. They say iron sharpens iron, so you bring the same practice habits to the game, that creates winning football. I can bring that to the team and also contribute wherever they need me to contribute and just be a team player guy.

Meet Caleb Huntley, Ball State’s bruising RB prospect