Football: Ballantyne signs with Ravens

Although he wasn’t one of the 255 college players selected in the NFL draft April 28 and 29, senior tight end Kendrick Ballantyne was contacted by eight teams immediately following the draft before signing as a free agent with the Baltimore Ravens.

In addition to Baltimore, the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles showed interest in the 6-foot, 4- inch 243-lb Gorham, Maine native.

“I chose [the Ravens] because they are a high quality, first-class organization,” Ballantyne said. “[My agents] and I also felt that I had the best shot of making the team [in Baltimore]. ”

Baltimore’s starter at tight end, Todd Heap, is a two-time Pro Bowler and one of the best in the game. Behind him on the depth chart is Daniel Wilcox, a six-year veteran who is a threat as a receiver but is more known for his blocking and special teams play. The third tight end spot is open, as two-year veteran Quinn Sypniewski might slide over to tackle and Rob Abiamiri spent last year on the practice squad. Notre Dame tight end Marcus Freeman, also signed as a free agent and will be in the running for the final spot.

Ballantyne, who snagged 39 catches for 655 yards and seven touchdowns his senior year, flew to Maryland last weekend to participate in the Ravens rookie camp.

While there, he had the chance to catch passes from Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, the Ravens’ fifth round pick (174th overall) and last season’s Heisman Trophy winner.

“It’s a good experience. He has a good arm, but it was really no different then [catching passes] from any other quarterback,” Ballantyne said.

From May 15 to June 23, Ballantyne will participate in the Raven’s Organized Team Activities, where he will be in camp with the veterans.

“[I’m looking forward] to have a chance to learn from [Heap], he’s one of the best tight ends in the game,” he said.

Ballantyne hopes to be with the Ravens when they open the regular season Sept. 10 at the Cincinnati Bengals, the team that drafted former Northeastern tight end Dan Ross in 1979.

“My No. 1 goal is to make the active roster and try to get on the field through special teams,” he said.

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