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Ball State Announces Football Awards

logo200Not necessarily “breaking” as it was announced this weekend, but a holiday on Monday and Fearless Leader being down with a sinus infection Tuesday means you get what you get when you get it. And seeing as it’s the dreaded offseason, any news is good news, even if it’s a couple of days late.

When I was a kid playing peewee football or little league or any other sport the highlight of the year was the end of year banquet. Unlike today’s sports leagues where everyone gets a trophy because parents these days are breeding generation after generation of kids that don’t value winning and competition, you got the hardware from a championship team, got some pizza, maybe some ice cream, and all was right with the world. You got to lord your accolades over those who didn’t get any or you got additional motivation to pick your game up for next year if you went home empty-handed. This have and have not dynamic is what made the sporting world go round. On Saturday in Muncie, several Cardinals entered the hallowed halls of the haves.

Ball State’s football team, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Pete Lembo, honored the 2013 Cardinals at the team’s annual Honors Banquet Saturday at the Horizon Convention Center in downtown Muncie.

Keith Wenning and Nathan Ollie were named the John Magnabosco Award winners as the team’s most valuable players on offense and defense, respectively. The Magnabosco Award is named in honor of Ball State’s head football coach from 1935-52. Magnabosco is the winningest football coach in Ball State history with 68 victories.

Wenning set Ball State single-season school records for passing yards (4,148), pass attempts (498), pass completions (319) and touchdown passes (35) in 2013. In addition, the All-Mid-American Conference Second-Team selection, also set career records for the Cardinals for passing yards (11,402), pass attempts (1,642), pass completions (1,035) and touchdown passes (92).

Ollie managed 72 total tackles in 2013, while leading the Cardinals with six quarterback hurries. Ollie ranked second on the team with 10 tackles for loss plus added four sacks. He earned All-MAC Second-Team honors as a defensive tackle for Ball State.

Zack Ryan was named the recipient of the John Hodge Award as Ball State’s Most Valuable Freshman. The Hodge Award is given in memory of the 1974 Cardinal Varsity Club Chairman who died in 1977. The CVC is an organization of benefactors to Ball State’s intercollegiate athletics program.

Ryan, a redshirt freshman linebacker, ranked third on the team with 92 total tackles plus was fourth on the team with eight tackles for loss. Ryan added 2.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry on the season. Ryan started all 13 games in his initial campaign and tallied a career high 11 tackles at Northern Illinois.

Jamill Smith was named the recipient of the Bill Reynolds Special Teams Award. The award is named in memory of Reynolds, who spent 31 years as a volunteer in the Ball State athletics department with an emphasis on the football program prior to his death in the summer of 2000.

Smith, who was named to the All-MAC Second Team as a kick returner and the third team as a wide receiver and punt returner, was third on the team with 67 receptions for 911 yards and eight touchdowns. He led the Cardinals with 26 kick returns for 677 yards and a 26.0 average. Smith, who has been co-recipient of the award the past two seasons, tallied 10 punt returns for 84 yards on the season.

Joseph Fazio received the Gene Booker Academic Award. The Academic Award has been given annually since 1978 and was named in honor of Gene Booker for the first time in 2011. Booker was a member of Ball State’s 1949 football team, which is the only unbeaten and untied team in the school’s 87 years of football.

Fazio, who owns a 3.769 cumulative grade-point average on Ball State’s 4.0 scale as a finance major, played in 13 games in 2013. After joining the team as a walk-on prior to the 2010 season, Fazio played in the final 26 games of his career as a free safety and on special teams.

Senior defensive tackle Joel Cox received the Mark Hays Inspiration Award, which is given to the person who demonstrates the greatest ability to motivate and inspire his teammates. The award is given in the memory of the late son of Kermit and the late Mary Ellen Hays, who spent their lives as fans and supporters of Ball State’s athletics program.

Cox managed 43 tackles in 2013 with two tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery. Cox tallied his sixth career blocked kick when he blocked an extra point attempt at Eastern Michigan. He posted a career best six tackles at North Texas, vs. Kent State and vs. Miami University this season.

Zane Fakes was awarded the Paul Schudel Strength and Conditioning Award, which is given to honor Ball State’s football coach from 1985-94 who led the Cardinals to the 1989 and 1993 MAC Championships. He guided Ball State to its first ever NCAA Division IA bowl games with appearances in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl and the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl. Schudel completed his career with 60 wins, which was second in Ball State history, and ranked fifth in the Mid-American Conference with 47 victories.

Fakes, who was named to the All-MAC First Team as a tight end, managed 41 receptions for 410 yards and two touchdowns. Fakes earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State last May and earned Capitol One Academic All-American honors this past fall, while pursuing his master’s degree.

The Bill Meitzler Scout Team Players of the Year were Denzel Pierce on offense and John Godfrey on defense. This award is given in honor of the former Cardinal Varsity Club Board member and longtime fan and supporter of Ball State football.

Connor Ryan, a senior wide receiver, received the Dave McClain Leadership Award. The McClain Award is given in memory of the deceased Dave McClain, who was Ball State’s head football coach from 1971-77 and guided the Cardinals to a 46-25-3 overall record. He guided the Cardinals into the Mid-American Conference and NCAA Division I football. McClain led Ball State to the 1976 MAC Championship in only the Cardinals second season in the conference. McClain’s final three Ball State teams posted a combined 26-7 overall mark and a 13-4 MAC mark.

Ryan, who missed two games and was limited for the majority of the season due to injury in 2013, managed 10 catches for 68 yards.

Ball State’s football program honored six with Ray Louthen Positional Awards, which honor the memory of Louthen, who was Ball State’s head football coach from 1962-67 and the school’s athletics director from 1970-81.

Jeffery Garrett (defensive back), Kenneth Lee (linebacker), Jonathan Newsome (defensive line), Willie Snead (wide receiver), Jahwan Edwards (running back) and Jordan Hansel (offensive line) were honored this season.

The Cardinals tallied a 10-3 overall record in 2013 and appeared in the GoDaddy Bowl, marking the school’s second straight bowl appearance. The 10 wins marked only third time in the school’s 89 years of football a team has posted at least 10 victories in a single season. The back-to-back bowl games marks only the second time for that to occur in the school’s history, while the seven MAC wins marked only the fifth time to reach that number since joining the league in 1975.

Your TL;DR synopsis: There are multiple people who made the 2013 version of the football Cardinals as successful as they were, which by the way, was arguably in the top 5 of successful seasons by most any measure. Congrats to the award winners and I hope the meal was as delicious as the pizza was when I was 8. (It probably wasn’t, because when you’re 8, pizza is the shit.)

UPDATE: We have received some news on the menu. From a source: Meal was some kind of roast, pecan breaded chicken, steam mixed veggies, quarter potatoes, salad, dessert was cheesecake for the most part. Yeah… I’ll take the pizza.

UPDATE 2: We’ve been informed that the chef for this particular banquet is actually a BSU football alum. I’m sure the meal was delicious, but for me, you could put filet mignon or turducken on the menu, and nothing is going to be as amazing as that pizza was for 8-year old me. FACT.


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