Chris Ball enters his fourth season at Arizona State under head coach Todd Graham, and 16th season overall. After serving as defensive passing game coordinator and safeties coach in 2012, Ball was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2013.
Under Ball’s supervision, ASU’s secondary ranks first in the Pac-12 and is tied for second in the nation with an average of 1.4 interceptions per game over the past three seasons. During that same stretch Ball has coached seven Sun Devil defensive backs who have gone on to earn All-Pac-12 recognition, including Lloyd Carrington, Alden Darby, Jordan Simone, Osahon Irabor, Keelan Johnson, Robert Nelson and Damarious Randall.
In 2014, Ball mentored Randall to First-Team All-Pac-12 honors and this past spring Randall was selected in the first round (30th overall by the Green Bay Packers) of the 2015 National Football League Draft . Ball’s guidance also helped lead safety Simone and cornerback Carrington to All-Pac-12 seasons. ASU’s defense led the Pac-12 with 14 interceptions, including 10 from the secondary, last season.
Ball mentored three defensive backs – Robert Nelson (first team), Alden Darby (first team) and Osahon Irabor (second team) – who earned Pac-12 honors in 2013. Darby was also selected as a 2013 Senior CLASS Award® Second-Team All-American for the NCAA® Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, the only Pac-12 player to be included on the list. He led the team with 13 passes defended in 2013, which was tied for fourth in the Pac-12. Nelson’s 0.4 interceptions per game mark were 19th nationally and fourth in the conference while his six interceptions also paced the Pac-12. Irabor finished eighth on the team with 54 tackles in 2013.
Both Darby (San Diego Chargers) and Nelson (Cleveland Browns) signed free agent contracts with NFL teams in 2014.
Ball made an instant impact in his first season with the Sun Devils as he ushered a turnaround that saw the secondary make drastic improvements in passing defense and passing efficiency defense. His unit led the Pac-12 in both categories and ranked third in the nation in the former (167.92 yards per game) and 10th in the nation in the latter (105.45) after finishing near the bottom of the Pac-12 in both categories in 2011. Safeties Darby and Keelan Johnson combined for eight interceptions to lead a defense that finished fourth in the nation with 21 interceptions. Johnson led the team with five interceptions and tied for 17th in the country with .38 interceptions per game. In addition, Irabor led the team with 14 passes defensed and didn’t have a single pass interference called against him all season.
Before coming to Arizona State, Ball worked with Washington State University, where he was defensive coordinator. He also spent time at Pitt and Alabama, mentoring numerous NFL talents.
In his four seasons at Washington State, Ball served as assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. He arrived at WSU after spending the 2007 season as secondary coach at Pitt. In 2009, Ball was named the best position coach in the Pac-10 by The Sporting News.
During his only season with the Panthers, the Pitt defense ranked fourth nationally in pass defense (167.3 ypg) and seventh in total defense (297.7 ypg).
From 2003 to 2006, Ball coached the secondary for the Alabama Crimson Tide. In 2004, Ball’s secondary led the nation in pass defense, allowing just 113.1 passing yards per game and finishing second nationally in pass efficiency defense. The following season the Alabama secondary ranked fifth in both pass defense (160.8 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (97.8 rating), and the Crimson Tide ranked second nationally in total defense. In 2006, Ball oversaw the progress of free safety Roman Harper, who earned All-SEC honors and was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the nation’s top defensive back.
From 2000 to 2002, Ball coached defensive backs at Washington State, mentoring future NFL great Marcus Trufant. During his three seasons, WSU’s defense compiled 56 interceptions, including 26 during the 2001 campaign, which tied for second nationally.
The St. Louis, Mo., native and 1981 graduate of Webster Grove High played football at Missouri Western State College and later served as a graduate assistant and defensive coordinator at his alma mater.
The 1985 All-American defensive back coached at both Northeast Missouri State (1986-87) and Akron (1987-88) before joining Mike Price’s staff in 1989. He coached at Coffeyville Community College (1990-94), Western Oregon State College (1995-96) and Missouri Western State (1997-98).
Prior to joining the Cougar staff in 2000, Ball spent the 1999 season as defensive coordinator for Idaho State head coach Larry Lewis.
Ball and his wife Tandi have three children, son Brennan (22) and daughters Abby (11) and Ella Grace (4).