When it comes to the 2014 NFL Draft, Lonnie Ballentine is now known as the 39th Mr. Irrelevant. But when it comes to fatherhood, he is anything but irrelevant.
Ballentine, a 6-foot-3, 219-pound free safety, was definitely a unique college football player while at Memphis. At 21, he's married and a father of two girls as he heads to the Houston Texans, who made Ballentine the final pick, No. 256, Saturday.
"It was hard," Ballentine said of juggling college football and a family life. "I had help from my wife [Brittany]. It was just a sacrifice I had to make."
Ballentine just might bring his family to Newport Beach July 8-12 for Irrelevant Week, which has included a day at Disneyland in the past. Londyn, 4, and Laila, 2, would love that.
This year, Irrelevant Week is a bit different now that it is part of the Foundation for the Undefeated, a national non-profit based in Newport Beach. But the same type of fun should be expected.
Ballentine said he has never been to Newport Beach.
"I'm ready," he said.
Ballentine should be ready to be roasted and toasted at the annual banquet, where he'll be presented the Lowsman Trophy, which features a figurine player fumbling a football. He'll also receive gifts. Maybe someone will give him a bottle of whiskey, a brand pronounced the same as his last name but that's spelled, "Ballantine."
The banquet is scheduled for July 10, according to the Foundation for the Undefeated website.
Irrelevant Week will also raise money for Special Olympics Southern California this year.
"I had no idea about that," Ballentine said of Irrelevant Week, which was founded by Newport Beach resident Paul Salata.
Salata was not present to announce the final pick in New York City because he is recovering from a recent hip injury. His daughter, Mel Fitch, made the announcement with her husband, Ed, at her side, holding up a Texans jersey with the No. 256 and "Mr. Irrelevant" on the back. Fitch said her father was "out on injured reserve," before calling out Ballentine's name.
Ballentine said he was sitting at home trying to figure out where he would end up as an undrafted rookie free agent moments before realizing he would become Mr. Irrelevant.
"God is good," Ballentine said. "It feels great. It's a big relief."
The Texans began their draft with defense, selecting Jadeveon Clowney as the No. 1 pick, and ended their draft with another defender.
Ballentine said he's aware the Texans failed at safety when bringing in Ed Reed last year, but he hopes to change that.
"I'm the guy that can get in there and help at that position," Ballentine said.
He played in 42 games over his four-year career with the Tigers, registering 141.5 tackles during his time at Memphis.
He had a career-best 15 tackles against Arkansas State as a junior in 2012 and recorded three interceptions as a Tiger.
Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com says of Ballentine, "a long-limbed, rangy back-half defender with intriguing straight-line speed, range and leaping ability to compete for a job as a backup safety and special-teams performer."
“He’s kind of a unique college player,” said Ron Mears, Memphis assistant athletic director. “He’s young but he may be more mature from just having a family. I think that he’ll represent the Texans well.”
Ballentine doesn't lack for confidence. On his Twitter page bio, @Big_Play_4, he says, "ON MY ROAD TO RICHE$$$."
He also tweeted at the end of the NFL Draft: "IMA TEXAN BABY !"
He's also Mr. Irrelevant.