Ballentine shines in NFL preseason debut

New York Giants defensive back Corey Ballentine (25) attempts to tackle New York Jets' Deonte Thompson (1) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (WIBW) - Corey Ballentine's confidence isn't wavering as an NFL rookie.

"I've always felt like I could compete at this level with these types of athletes," the former Washburn star said.

And he's starting to prove it. The New York Giants' sixth-round pick and former Washburn star snagged a highlight-reel interception in the team's preseason opener on Thursday night. He also added a 40-yard kickoff return while having a nice pass breakup called back due to a pass interference review.

The Shawnee Heights alumnus said things are slowing down for him and he's not letting the playbook overwhelm him.

"I'm just getting more comfortable, trying not think so much and reacting more," Ballentine said. "This is something I've always wanted to do since I was young and now the time is here. You know, I've just gotta do my thing and make sure that everybody knows that I belong here."

“I am a big fan of his, ever since we’ve done the evaluation on him and we picked him,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said. “If you’re going to play in this game and have success, you have to be tough and competitive. He is both. He’s had to go through some adversity here, but we’ve seen him compete and make plays in practice.”

The defensive back has shown off some in practice, grabbing multiple interceptions. And as Ballentine continues to move forward from the April shooting that wounded him and killed his best friend Dwane Simmons, his former Washburn teammates are not surprised to see him continuing to succeed.

"I played alongside with him," Washburn senior defensive back Alvin Houston said. "It's fun just to see him making plays because he belongs and it shows that he belongs."

"It's not a surprise to really any of us out here," Washburn junior quarterback Mitch Schurig said. "It's cool to see, a guy from this area doing it like that. We knew he was capable of these big things."