Leave it to Pete Lembo to break the mold of Ball State football. In recent years, the Cardinals were quiet until fall camp opened, but between last year and this year, Coach Lembo has made sure that BSU football has stayed on the forefront of the college football world, or at least as much as a MAC school can.
Lembo announced on Wednesday that the roster of BSU was expanding by two, as the Cardinals have picked up two transfers, both on the defensive side of the ball and in critical positions, and both with significant playing experience at programs that are just a smidge higher in prestige than BSU.
Per the BSU release…
Ball State head football coach Pete Lembo has announced that Brandon Newman and Jarrett Swaby have signed grant-in-aid papers and will be joining the Cardinals football program. They are each college graduates who will attend graduate school at Ball State and be eligible to compete immediately in 2012.
Newman, a 6-0, 303 lb., defensive lineman completed his undergraduate career at Notre Dame, while Swaby, a 6-1, 191 lb., safety, played three years at Central Florida.
“We are very pleased to welcome Brandon and Jarrett to the Ball State community and the football program,” Lembo says. “Both of these young men were strong students, good citizens and contributors on the field at their previous institutions. We hope they can both achieve their athletic goals at Ball State while pursuing a master’s degree in their chosen fields of study. With the arrival of these two veteran players, we anticipate seeing some additional competition for playing time on the defensive side of the ball during preseason camp.”
Newman played four seasons at Notre Dame after graduating from Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, Ky. He was one of 11 players from Kentucky named to the 2007 All-Southern Team by the Orlando Sentinel plus was chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, after his senior season. An all-state selection as a senior, Newman earned second team honors as a junior. He was ranked as the second best player in Kentucky by Rivals.com and the 22nd best defensive tackle in the nation while at Pleasure Ridge Park H.S. Newman totaled 126 tackles in his high school career, including 31.5 tackles for loss. A four-year letterwinner in football and track in high school, Newman was a three-time captain of the football team. He appeared in two games while at Notre Dame.
Swaby, who appeared in 11 games for UCF in 2011, redshirted for the Knights in 2009 and did not see action in 2010. He managed 12 tackles for UCF last fall. A graduate of Glades Day School in Florida, Swaby recorded 77 tackles, nine pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a high school senior. He also added 133 yards rushing, 79 yards receiving and three touchdowns while playing running back on offense. Swaby helped Glades Day to the 2006 Florida Class A State Championship and earned all-area and all-state honors that season. Swaby also competed in track in high school and qualified for the state meet in the 400-meters as a senior.
Ball State will open the 2012 football season Thurs., Aug. 30, in a home game at Scheumann Stadium against Mid-American Conference opponent Eastern Michigan.
Anytime the Cards can add to the roster with not only able-bodied needed positions, but also players with impressive pedigrees and a different perspective to help the younger players adjust to college life.
For Newman, there’s an addition of girth and size on the defensive line, which many (myself included) would say is one of the most imperative position groups to shore up if the Cards hope 2012 is a successful campaign. His background of captain roles should mean there’s an increase of leadership, and it’s clear that with Army All-American honors out of high school, the young man can play. The naysayers will point to his lack of success at Notre Dame, but to be fair, playing at Notre Dame is essentially like playing for the Miami Heat. Even their bench players are phenomenal, and not seeing a great amount of field time at Notre Dame isn’t in and of itself a huge reason to be worried.
Swaby comes to BSU from Central Florida and if his track success is any indicator should bring a bit more speed to the Cardinals secondary. Adding another Florida born player is an added benefit as well. Oh, and the fact that he happens to play safety, yet another position that the Cardinals have some significant question marks heading into 2012 is a nice little cherry on this transfer sundae.
All in all, a pretty impressive random Wednesday bit of news for the Cardinals. August 30th can’t get here soon enough, for a whole host of reasons. Will the fans support this team? How will BSU fare in their conference opener? What sort of offensive progression are we going to see in Lembo 2.0? There’s loads of questions for this year, but with these two transfers at least the defensively focused quandaries have been mitigated a bit.