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Breaking Down the Ball State Recruiting Class

Pen-and-Paper

19 Cardinals put pen to paper Wednesday to pledge their next four years to the Cardinal and White.

For the majority of Cardinal fans, National Signing Day under Pete Lembo usually brings a new batch of Cardinals with some hidden gems, some unexpected surprises, but on the whole, a solid group of individuals that fits into the plan of things at BSU. Today was no exception as BSU inked 19 graduating high school seniors and one graduate student transfer to complete the class of 2014. While the national eyes were on the football factories down south, Coach Pete Lembo and crew put together what is being heralded by some as a class worthy of celebration.

At the conclusion of signing day, Steve Wiltfong of 247sports.com called the Ball State 2014 class “one of the best in the MAC”, a sentiment not reflected by his employers, who placed BSU 7th in the conference. Rivals had BSU as the 4th-best class in the MAC and Scout ranked the Cardinals as 3rd-best. As we talked about on the OTPRecruitcast last week, rankings outside of the top 25 are wildly divergent and rarely consistent across ranking services. However, Scout.com’s evaluation of the Cardinals as the 77th best class in the country is the highest rating that BSU has had since the Scout service was archived back to 2002.

Your class at a glance:

  • S Dedrick Cromartie
  • WR Roy Denson
  • RB Darian Green
  • DT Bruce Heggie
  • WR Jordan Hogue
  • LB Jeremiah Jackson
  • DB Matthew Johnson
  • TE Garrett Johnson
  • OT Alex Joss
  • OT Malik King
  • WR Corey Lacarnia
  • S Jake McPhatter
  • QB David Morrison
  • WR Devin Reece
  • LB Damon Singleton
  • DB Quentin Turner
  • ATH Winfred Ward
  • LB Jacob White
  • DT Kevin Willis
  • WR Jalen Wyatt

Some things that I noticed about the class:

  • The biggest thing I noticed is that there isn’t a push for the defensive line, where (in my opinion), BSU will be the weakest next season. The secondary and defensive backfield got a push to bolster their experienced units, as did the offensive skill positions. I have to believe that the defensive interior depth is an area that the coaching staff wishes was a better situation, and I’m quite sure not having a current D-line coach played into that result quite heavily.
  • Speaking of offensive skill positions, with the focus that position got on this year’s recruiting trail, it tells me that the coaching staff knew fairly early on that Willie Snead was going to try his hand at the NFL at season’s end. Plus, with this year’s injury bug to the wide receivers, I would imagine the coaches wanted significant depth at that spot, and they certainly got it.
  • Early frontrunner for “Name of the Class” is Dedrick Cromartie. That’s got humor written all over it. I can only hope we find an equally entertaining photo for him like we did for Matthew Page.
  • The BallStateSports livestream today was great. I had multiple livestreams going for several different teams that I follow, and BSU’s was right up there with the best of them. There was a significant lack of blogger input on the livestream though. I know a good one, guys.
  • It was noticeable how geographically diverse this class is. Indiana was the state with the most signees (6), but unlike years past, Florida and Michigan were right behind (4 each). Illinois with 2, and Georgia, Missouri, and Pennsylvania with one each were also within spitting distance. I am shocked there is no one from North Carolina. That may not seem like all that large of a footprint, but like most things in life… a map helps:
    Ball State Recruits 2014

You can check out the entire release of the BSU recruiting class with names, info, biography information and some info on the class as a whole here: Signing Day Release

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Your Ball State Signing Day Tracker Live Thread

logo200What’s that? You want to keep track of the Ball State football signing day activities but don’t have the time or the luxury to crank up a webcast at your desk while you’re in class, at work, or doing some other thing? First of all, if it was me, I’d either drop out, quit, find a new job, or become a hermit. But I understand if paying your bills and/or receiving an education is of high importance. So I forgive you, for now.

However, those responsibilities shouldn’t preclude you from learning about the future Cardinals as they sign on the dotted line and fax their letters to a joyous Cardinal football staff. This post is how you stay informed with who has signed, who’s left, and some other random goings on from National Signing Day and the recruiting trail.

Who has signed their Letters of Intent:

  • S Dedrick Cromartie
  • WR Roy Denson
  • RB Darian Green
  • DT Bruce Heggie
  • WR Jordan Hogue
  • LB Jeremiah Jackson
  • DB Matthew Johnson
  • TE Garrett Johnson
  • OT Alex Joss
  • OT Malik King
  • WR Corey Lacarnia
  • S Jake McPhatter
  • QB David Morrison
  • WR Devin Reece
  • LB Damon Singleton
  • DB Quentin Turner
  • ATH Winfred Ward
  • LB Jacob White
  • DT Kevin Willis
  • WR Jalen Wyatt

Of note is that defensive tackle Bruce Heggie is transferring into Ball State from Notre Dame as a grad student with one year of eligibility left. So a new addition, though not the fresh out of high school kind.

Verbal commitments that are yet to sign their LOI:

  • None

BSU offers and where they are ending up (h/t to Andy Thorpe and BallState.scout.com for some of the info below):

  • DT Taylor Timmons: Signed with New Mexico.
  • TE David Walker: Still unsigned from everything we have access to. Offers from BSU, CMU, WMU, Cornell, Harvard. Decommitted from WMU
  • OL Matt Byrne: Signed with Indiana State
  • WR Robert Priester: Signed with Wyoming
  • WR Matthew Quarells: Signed with New Mexico
  • WR Adrian Davis: Still unsigned from everything we have access to. Offers from BSU, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, and Toledo.
  • DT Kayton Samuels: Signed with Syracuse. A 6’2″ 300lb. that BSU was locked in a battle against ‘Cuse for. Longshot since the start, but the fact that the Cards were in a battle for a recruit against an ACC team and went down to the wire for is a nice change of pace.
  • DE Adrian Rankin: Signed with Youngstown State
  • LB Logan Sedergren: Signed with Richmond
  • LB Carl Fuller: Unsigned from what we have access to. Offers from BSU, EMU, Toledo, WMU, and Syracuse
  • S Shemar Hooks: Signed with Urbana (playing QB)
  • DB Demetrius Suesberry: Unsigned from what we have access to. Offers from BSU and Akron
  • DB Darian Mills: Unsigned from what we have access to.

Random updates from the Signing Day livestream on BallStateSports that you should be watching:

  • 11:05: Justin Lustig’s beard is too manly for this webstream. I would imagine it’s responsible for at least half this class.
  • 11:28: Bill Scholl impresses me every time I hear him speak. Great representative of the program.
  • 11:35: Recruit list above updated with the latest batch of LOIs
  • 11:39: Shannon Morrison just looks like a bad bad man. I’m sure he’s a giant teddy bear, but I also would not be surprised if he eats sawdust and poops 2x4s
  • 11:46: I think it’s great to see other coaches from other sports on this signing day special. Normally I’m not a huge fan of crossing streams, but why not capitalize on a potentially bigger day of attention for an athletic program in dire need of some.
  • 11:52: Men’s volleyball head coach Joel Walton is right up there with Pete Lembo in terms of head coaches that look like they could also find all of your unknown deductibles and credits on your 1040 form as well as coach championship caliber teams.
  • 12:02: Steve Wiltfong from 24/7 Sports calls the BSU recruiting class “one of the best in the MAC”. I can dig it.
  • 12:04: Wiltfong calls Quentin Turner the biggest steal in the class and Damon Singleton a gamechanger on defense.
  • 12:06: Coach Strollo needs some mic work. Eerily reminiscent of Ricky Bobby not knowing where to put his hands during his first interview.
  • 12:20: I think Tom Davis has dropped some lbs. He must be on the CPL plan or Coach Feeley must be terrorizing him in the weight room.
  • 12:24: Darian Green getting compared already to Banks, Edwards, and Williamson? Let’s slow down, folks.
  • 12:28: Tom Davis with the News Sentinel web address drop. Nice plug, Tom.
  • 12:34: BSU sends an official press release announcing the Class of 2014. Looks like no other surprises or signees coming today. The 19 above looks to be the class in its entirety.
  • 12:40: CPL taking the mic
  • 12:41: CPL rocking a nice little 5 o’clock shadow. I’m not sure if he can ever make it to the epic face carpet that Coach Lustig was rocking today, but if that’s his goal, good luck.
  • 12:43: Maybe it’s just me, but CPL doesn’t seem his usual chipper media savvy self today. Almost seems a little perturbed. Whether something didn’t go as he thought it would this morning or perhaps he just didn’t sleep well is anyone’s guess.
  • 12:45: In case you didn’t know, tonight at 6pm at the Alumni Center is the Signing Day Reception. It’s free. The drinks are not. There’s a cash bar.
  • 12:49: Jeff Weller is so much fun to listen to. It’s almost like the wise older family friend giving sage advice around the dinner table.
  • 12:58: And that’s going to wrap it up for the BallStateSports.com mothership stream. We’ll have more on this class as the day rolls on.

Where to Spend National Signing Day as a BSU Fan

What is this alien technology?! KILL IT!!!

What is this alien technology?! KILL IT!!!

Wednesday morning, two things will happen:

  1. College football fans the world over will turn their attention to a group of 17 and 18 year olds as they make the decision about where they will attend college in the fall. For some it will be tremendous fanfare type of activities with hats on tables, television cameras, and crowds. For others, it will be a simple fax to a football office much like the one at Scheumann Stadium in Muncie. Speaking of…
  2. Fax machines will get more attention tomorrow then they get any other day of the year. I am not quite sure where the fax machine in my office complex is if I needed to use it, but tomorrow, facsimile machines will be all the rage. I’m not sure why an email isn’t sufficient, but it’s the NCAA so sense and rationale have no place here.

For Ball State fans, it isn’t likely that any highlight packages or signing day coverage on the ESPN family or the major recruiting sites like Scout, Rivals, or 24/7 will feature Ball State recruits, a table full of hats, or their comings and goings. Thankfully, Ball State has you covered as they plan on blowing the roof off the MAC recruiting house by doing something no other MAC school is cranking out. Want to hear what Pete Lembo has to say about recruits? You got it. Missing the dulcet tones of Joel Godett? They’ve got you covered. Need a front row web seat in case a major recruiting surprise comes through? You know it. Want to hear Tom Davis’ hot sports takes on all things recruiting related?! YOU DON’T GET A CHOICE. TAKE YOUR TOM DAVIS AND ENJOY IT.

From the BSU release on the Signing Day festivities and how you can keep up with the Cardinals…

Ball State’s football staff will present its 2014 recruiting class Wednesday with a live web stream from the Fisher Complex and an evening reception at the Alumni Center. Both the internet show and signing day party are free to all Ball State fans.

Ball State athletics and Ball State Sports Link will provide its National Signing Day Special from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The live online web stream on http://www.ballstatesports.com will feature Jeff Weller and Luke Martin with production and taped interviews by Ball State’s Joel Godett.

Growing from the success of previous signing day web broadcasts, this year’s show will feature:

  • Multiple interviews with head coach Pete Lembo
  • Live interviews with all assistant football coaches, including new defensive coordinator Kevin Kelly and new offensive line coach John Strollo
  • An exclusive interview with early-enrollee freshman quarterback David Morrison
  • Perspective on this year’s Ball State class from 247Sports.com National Recruiting Insider Steve Wiltfong and Ball State football beat reporter from the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel Tom Davis
  • Videos and brief biographies of every signed recruit
  • Up-to-minute announcements of signeesIn addition to talking to every member of the Ball State football coaching staff, interviews with head coaches from many other Ball State athletic programs will occur.

The Signing Day Celebration event will feature Ball State head football coach Pete Lembo and the remainder of the coaching staff as they present their 2014 recruiting class from the Alumni Center. This free event to the public starts at 6 p.m. With complimentary heavy hors d’oeuvres, popcorn, snack mix plus Pepsi products, water and coffee. A cash bar will also be available.

Lembo will lead a program at the Signing Day Celebration introducing each of the new recruits while the assistant coaches will add stories of the recruitment of the new Ball State Cardinal and what fans can expect from him in the future.

To view the live web stream Wednesday, log on to www.ballstatesports.com.

We have always harped on the athletic administration pre-Lembo that there wasn’t anything cool or exciting being done to put BSU on the level of the major athletic programs. This is yet another step in the right direction. I would highly advise that you pencil in some time on your work calendar to make sure you can catch this webcast. I’ve found things like “Status Meeting”, “EOY Projections”, or “Waxing” seem to facilitate the fewest questions from curious calendar onlookers. That’s assuming you able even to make it in to work at all.

From everything I’m hearing, tomorrow is going to be a ridiculous snow day in East Central Indiana as old man winter again backhands Cardinal nation. You might as well settle in with a blanket, a laptop, perhaps a mimosa or three, and get yourself educated on what may very well be one of the top 2 or 3 recruiting classes in the MAC. What else are you going to do? Go out and build a snowman with your kids? Well, TOM DAVIS > your children. It’s science. See you all around here tomorrow for the Signing Day festivities.

Signing Day goes Carolina barbeque

Today is national signing day which means typically nothing for MAC schools. Again, I do not place value in comparing recruits as it will be years before we truly know how great this recruiting class was. Comparing recruiting classes is just another way for Alabama to shove it in our faces.

Coach Pete Lembo has made it clear he does not like to play freshmen. So the newcomers to this program will be lucky to see the field this season. What is fascinating though is where the 2013 recruiting class came from. We brought up it up in the summer how Ball State was targeting recruits in Confederate territory of Georgia and the Carolinas. Give credit to the coaching staff, they got some of those players. Here is a top five state breakdown.

  • North Carolina – 7
    Indiana – 3
    Illinois – 3
    Ohio – 2
    Michigan – 2

That’s right. Ball State recruited over twice as many North Carolina players as it did from Indiana. Cue Vince Lombardi saying “What the Hell is going on around here?”

This is why many thought North Carolina State would make a play for Lembo. His tie to Elon gives him knowledge of the area. Plus other schools in the state saw the success Jahwan Edwards had his freshmen year in Muncie and wanted in. It is why Ball State took the loss at Clemson this past year. That game provided a chance to sell the program to local players.

The marching band loves Indiana but the football teams loves North Carolina just as much.

The marching band loves Indiana but the football team loves North Carolina just as much.

Ignore the stars of the players recruited as they will be given plenty of time to develop in Lembo’s system. This is automatically a great recruiting class to me simply because it has expanded the recruiting base. Under Parrish, Ball State was locked into a love triangle of recruiting only Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Under Lembo it is that region plus a side of Carolina barbeque. Heck I want to eat a pulled pork sandwich right now just to honor this recruiting class.

The main concern in only grabbing three Indiana players is the scary thought of local talent may have slipped to a MAC rival. However, it appears that local talent just was not there this season. Here is a list of Indiana players from rivals.com and none of them are in the Muncie area. Most of the players recruited came from Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, the typical locations.

Some MAC schools did score some Indiana commits but nothing alarming. Eastern Michigan gobbled up three players from Indianapolis. Why would an Indianapolis high school football player want to go to Eastern Michigan? Have they not researched the multiple decades of sucking that is Eastern Michigan football? Hopefully Eastern was the only FBS offer these kids received, or we have to question the quality of their high school education.

We’ll find out how good some of these players are in a few years. If we learned anything today, North Carolina State made a big mistake in not hiring Pete Lembo and that is a mistake we should be thankful for.

Nathan Pace is a 2012 Ball State graduate and writes for the Southsider Voice newspaper. You can follow him on Twitter at @NathanPacers

Cards have Georgia on their Mind

Rarely do I get involved in recruiting stories but recruiting philosophy takes the cake.

Recruiting philosophy as in the positions and locations coaches’ target.

Coach Pete Lembo mentioned how his staff targets the positions in need. Having a spreadsheet telling you there is a lack of corners may not sound interesting but where the team searches for the players is.

Ball State has not scored any commits yet but it has made plenty of offers. According to ESPN, the top three states with the most offers are Indiana (9) and a tie for second between Ohio (7) and wait for it…

Georgia!

Ray Charles would be proud of Ball State’s recruiting strategy.

Ball State has the same number offers for players from Georgia as it does with neighbor Ohio. More offers to Georgia than the border states of Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky combined.

Lembo has made it a priority to expand the recruiting base and win over kids from the South. Where high school football is an unhealthy obsession and talented kids are produced every year like acres of corn are in Indiana.

This philosophy has plenty to do with his time at Elon. Lembo is willing to play games in this region to grab kid’s attention too. Trust me, the Clemson game this season is all about recruiting. If Ball State wanted to get paid to be beaten by a BCS team it would have gone with a closer team like a Wisconsin or Michigan State.

It is a bold strategy. Every school wants to grab kids from Georgia and the South. If the Cardinals can land a couple of Georgia boys then it may all be worth the added travel expenses for coach’s visits.

On the other hand it could backfire. With Ball State placing its bets in Georgia nothing could be worse than having Western Michigan or Northern Illinois snatching an Indiana kid who goes on to torch Ball State for four years. We just saw that with Chandler Harnish at NIU.

Personally, I would rather see Ball State clean house in Indiana. Even if the talent is not as good as Georgia’s, seeing Ball State steal kids away from IU and Purdue will bring a smile to any fan.

But if Lembo can pull some commits out of his Georgia hat it will be a cause for celebration. With all the confederate flag and NASCAR jokes aside, I would be thrilled to have them in Muncie.

Meeting Pete Lembo

You can now say you read the bog post of the blogger who shook the hand of Pete Lembo.

I can finally say I have met Pete Lembo and he at least knows I exist.

I attended Lembo’s community forum at the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center in beautiful Minnetrista Friday morning. It was awkward at first as I saw less than 10 people there on arrival. This was open to everyone in Muncie to meet and greet Pete Lembo and only 10 people showed. To make things worse I was the only student. Every Ball State student got the same e-mail invitation I had and one out of 20,000 made it. I clearly stood out like a sore thumb in a room full of tenured faculty.

We shook hands and I told him I was with Over the Pylon, which may not have been the best idea as he expected no media to be there.

Sadly, I did not take a picture with him, or record the conversation as it was such an intimate setting I did not want to be the jerk that placed a recorder on a table.

What impressed me most was Lembo’s public speaking ability. He spoke for an hour while taking questions in the latter half. Not once did he look down for notes, or say any cliché “coach speak.” Even with all the talking I am fairly sure he did not even take a sip of the water on his podium until 50 minutes into it. If only there was stat sheet for something like that. Standing behind a podium he was more like a politician than a coach.

As a Georgetown graduate, Lembo explained how all four of his college roommates went on to become lawyers (tragically, one passed away in a car accident eight years ago). While his college buddies were making bank, Lembo was slowly rising through the college ranks. Needless to say, assistant coaches at tiny colleges do not make much money. Lembo says he did not even have health insurance while his friends were establishing successful law firms purchasing luxury cars. I am sure Lembo has caught up to his peers in recent years.

Lembo spoke extensively about his time at Lehigh University as he learned to cope with limited resources. The school’s shoestring budget makes Ball State look like Michigan.

Bringing alums to talk about life after football was another factor Lembo emphasized. Lembo says having several former Ball State players talk about the difficulties of making a transition to life after football came across as a wake-up call to his players.

When football coaches say they value academics, it is difficult to tell how genuine they truly are. With Lembo I was buying every word. No one leaves Georgetown thinking grades are meaningless. That was tough for me to say as I hate Georgetown and Google “Ronny Thompson and family” to learn why. Lembo’s history of coaching smaller schools that rarely have NFL talent brings more emphasis on a degree than a pro career.

Another notable was recruiting philosophy. Lembo wants to recruit locally but also in southern states like the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida because of networking he made at Elon. We can assume that schools like Clemson and South Florida will become norms on Ball State’s schedule.

Lembo says he does not have many hobbies. He is a bit of a World War I and World War II historian. I guess nothing speaks to the American male quite like college football and shooting Nazis.

I left the forum wanting to quote Denzel Washington from the “Manchurian Candidate” saying, “Pete Lembo is probably the kindest, bravest, warmest, most selfless human being I’ve ever known.”

Okay I did not go that far. This was not a brain washing session.

The fact is Lembo, has been open with the Muncie community and worked hard reestablish relations with alumni. So far, the assistant coaches he has hired have paid off well. Players have bought into the system and wins came in 2011. What more do you want the man to do?

I did have some questions after the forum. If Lembo is so good how was Ball State able to get him? Was Tom Collins lucky to find the right man for the job? Read that last sentence again and tell me if that is a believable statement. Then again why am I paranoid like Richard Nixon in 1972 right now? I can think of two scenarios.

1. Tom Collins found a hidden gem in the coaching ranks. As a Ball State fan it is tough to give Collins credit for much of anything but credit is due.

2. Other FBS schools discarded Lembo for some unknown reason. The fact that closer Sun Belt and Conference USA schools failed to make an effort before Ball State appears either as incompetent or troubling. Did those schools see red flags Ball State did not?

In the meantime Ball State fans have something to look forward to in the 2012 season.

For the future, every time Lembo appears on ESPN, I can say “I know that guy.” Even better I have a new reason to watch the “Manchurian Candidate” and play World War II video games.

AUDIO: Cards Protect Muncie With New QB

Quarterback Ozzie Mann’s signing at Ball State appears logical as he played High School football minutes away from Scheumann Stadium. That does not mean it was a lock Ball State coaches would offer the Delta High School product a scholarship.

Which route is faster to Scheumann Stadium from Delta between Walnut and Broadway?

When Coach Pete Lembo arrived after the 2010 season, he could have wiped the slate clean releasing all the assistants under Stan Parrish. Instead Lembo kept Joey Lynch on board as recruiting coordinator to maintain relationships with incoming recruits.

“The first thing we do in the staff room everyday is write a hand written note to the kids at the top of our list,” Lembo said at the signing day banquet. “Joey Lynch, one of his many duties, is to keep that list updated.”

Lynch is as well-connected to Ball State as one can be. Not only did he start at quarterback for the Cardinals, he is also the son of former Ball State coach Bill Lynch. Parrish hired Lynch as an assistant in 2009.

Lynch is also a graduate of Delta and followed Mann’s progression as a passer closely. Offensive Coordinator Rich Skrosky had just been hired and saw tape of Mann for the first time in this past February and liked what he saw.  Skrosky called Lynch for his opinion.

“As soon as I watch [the tape] I called Joey and said, ’Joey, what do you think of this guy?’” Skrosky said. “We didn’t know each other very well yet so I think he was thinking. ‘Oh gosh, Skrosky hates him,’ so he said ‘I think he’s decent what do you think?’”

What Skrosky said next was a huge relief for Lynch.

“I think he’s awesome,” Skrosky said on Mann.

Ball State offered Mann a scholarship and he became one of the first commitments to the 2012 class.

Ball State has let local quarterbacks in the past slip away to a rival. Chandler Harnish was a native of nearby Bluffton but Ball State did not recruit him. Brady Hoke was coaching the Cardinals at the time and did not think Harnish’s style would fit in with Ball State’s air attack. With Nate Davis playing the position, quarterback was not a position in dire need.

With Ball State out of the running, Harnish went across state lines to conference rival Northern Illinois. The Huskies won the Mid-American Conference Championship in 2011 making Ball State regret not taking him.

Lynch and Skrosky were not about to make the same mistake.

Mann went on to have a successful senior year individually throwing for 16 touchdowns with only four interceptions. That type of ball security has the Ball State coaches really excited to have him on the roster.

It may be a while for Mann to see significant playing time behind incumbent starting quarterback Keith Wenning and senior quarterback Kelly Page. Lembo’s philosophy is to red shirt players who may not contribute right away.

“If we have to keep playing freshmen it’s not going to work,” Lembo said. “I could be Lou Holtz and these guys could be the best coaching staff in America and it just doesn’t happen.”

You can listen to what Skrosky had to say on Ozzie Mann at the Signing Day Banquet below.

AUDIO: Coach Pete Lembo Talks Recruiting

I was at the signing day banquet Wednesday and recorded Coach Pete Lembo’s speech. Click on the link below to listen to his speech. I edited out the first three minutes as Lembo complimented his staff. We all know they worked hard. Lembo went into detail of the process his staff goes through when it comes to recruiting in his speech.

Lembo emphasized the difference having a full year made for his staff and how they already have a jump on next year.

As for the class itself Lembo touted the added depth at offensive line, the tall wide receivers, and the replacements to fill the holes in the secondary brought through graduation. He also added how proud he is to bring in local quarterback Ozzie Mann, a Delta High School recruit.

Lembo answered some questions at the end of the banquet that is included around the 10-minute mark of the audio file. He answered why Ball State did not recruit a running back and his philosophy on playing freshmen. We will go into more detail of the 2012 class in the coming weeks at OTP.

Cards Add Four Recruits to Fold

Despite signing day being a couple weeks ago, the Cardinals have added 4 more players to those initially thought to have signed with BSU on the first day that letters of intent could be delivered. Eric Patterson and Michael Ayers we chatted a bit about last week, but two more names hit the presses today in Dylan Curry and Chris Sparrow. Curry hails from Frankfort, KY and Sparrow from Scotts, MI. The BSU release for all four…

Ball State first-year head football coach Pete Lembo has added four recruits to the 2011 class, bringing the total to 23 for this year’s class. “We could not be more pleased with how this recruiting cycle has progressed,” Lembo says. “We proceeded methodically right through the signing date and identified some outstanding young men who were still available. These guys are excited to be coming to Ball State and will make our football program better.”

The following players have been added to the 2011 recruiting class:
Michael Ayers 6-1 210 LB Elks Grove, Calif. (Laguna Creek)
HIGH SCHOOL: Earned two letters for head coach Mark Nill . . . All-Delta Valley Conference as a senior after earning second-team honors as a junior . . . totalled 110 tackles as a senior . . . managed 206 tackles in career . . . PERSONAL: Son of Michael and Amy Ayers . . . one brother and one sister . . . born March 23, 1993, in Vallejo, Calif.
Quote from Coach Lembo: “Michael is a charismatic young guy who is very athletic. He is a former quarterback who has good leadership skills. As a linebacker, his speed, explosiveness and change of direction is impressive to watch. He has great instincts and a frame to get much bigger.”

Dylan Curry 6-5 255 TE Frankfort, Ky. (Western Hills)
HIGH SCHOOL: Earned four letters for head coach Don Miller . . . helped team to an 8-4 record as a senior, which was the best record in school history . . . helped team to a ranking of No. 2 in Class 3A as a senior . . . all-state as a senior after receiving honorable mention as a junior . . . voted team’s Most Valuable Player as a senior . . . passed for 1,435 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 730 yards and 16 TDs as a senior . . . passed for 5,012 yards with 39 TDs and rushed for 1,075 yards and 28 touchdowns in his career . . . set the school record for career passing yards . . . first player in Western Hills High School history to receive a Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship . . . academic all-state as a sophomore, junior and senior . . . also competed in baseball and basketball . . . PERSONAL: Son of Paul and Missy Curry . . . one brother and one sister . . . owns a 3.58 grade-point average on the school’s 4.0 scale . . . born Feb. 2, 1992, in Frankfort, Ky. . . . full name is Dylan Paul Curry.
Quote from Coach Lembo: “Dylan is a former multi-sport athlete who comes from an athletic family. He attended camp at Ball State as a rising senior and really liked the campus. Dylan gives us a body type at tight end that is different from what we currently have in the program. Since he will redshirt in the fall due to NCAA rules after attending the University of Louisville in 2010-11, Dylan can use this upcoming season to develope and learn the position.”

Eric Patterson 5-10 190 DB Tampa, Fla. (H.B. Plant)
HIGH SCHOOL: Earned one letter in football for head coach Robert Weiner . . . helped team to a 12-3 record as a senior, including a 4-0 mark in conference play . . . all-conference and all-county as a senior . . . managed 60 tackles, 22 pass breakups and one interception as a senior . . . averaged 44.67 yards per kickoff return on six returns as a senior . . . tallied 74 tackles, 26 PBUs and two interceptions in career . . . PERSONAL: Son of Eric Patterson and Devona Sanders . . . one sister and three brothers . . . born Feb. 5, 1993, in Tampa, Fla. . . . full name is Eric Patterson Jr.
Quote from Coach Lembo: “Eric is a cornerback with good size and speed. He played at a premier program in Florida – one we are very familiar with as a staff. Eric had some other Division I offers in January, but turned those down in search of the right fit. He was very comfortable with our team on his visit and we are excited to have him on board.”

Chris Sparrow 6-2 295 OL Scotts, Mich. (Vicksburg)
JUNIOR COLLEGE: Played two seasons at Harper Junior College . . . two-time all-region . . . all-conference in his second season after earning honorable mention in his first campaign . . . selected Harper’s Most Valuable Offensive Player in his second season . . . HIGH SCHOOL: Earned two letters for head coach Jim Rasmussen . . . team captain as a senior . . . all-conference as a senior . . . Kalamazoo Gazette All-Area as a senior . . . named Vicksburg’s Most Valuable Player and Lineman of the Year as a senior . . . also played baseball and basketball . . . batted over .400 in baseball and was named to all-conference second team . . . PERSONAL: Son of William and Karen Sparrow . . . one sister . . . born June 15, 1989, in Kalamazoo, Mich. . . . full name is Christopher William Sparrow.
Quote from Coach Lembo: “Chris is a very mature young man both physically and mentally. He is very driven, but is likeable and is definitely a team player. He is really put together, but looks much lighter. Chris is a guy who loves the game and the weight room. He will fit in well with the other personalities on the offensive line.”

Who am I most excited about? Curry and Sparrow for very different reasons. First and foremost, they’re the newest shiny objects to obsess over, but more importantly, they shore up critical positions that there is great need for. Anytime you can have an athletic and big bodies tight end, as well as an experienced offensive lineman, that makes life a bit easier.

Lucas Oil, DUIs, New Recruits, and Coach Chats. What an Offseason So Far

NFL Stadiums, DUIs, and new recruits?!? OH MY!

You know, sort of like the Howard Stern show curse, where whenever the King of All Media takes a week off from his radio show, celebrities die, usually in bunches, and all without the commentary of Howard, Robin, Fred and Bababooey the last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of Ball State footballness despite our inability to comment, report, or crack wise about the goings on. Have you been paying attention and not swamped at work? Then feel free to let us know what we haven’t caught up on. Been a bit behind yourself? Then read on for the highlight, or the lowlights as the case may be…

 

Looking Forward to the IU Game Next Fall? Hope You Get Good Mileage
What was talked about for most of the winter has finally become a reality as Ball State announced it is moving the scheduled 2011 home game with Indiana University away from Scheumann Stadium and instead to Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. Not surprisingly, the reaction from a good percentage of the fanbase has been less than stellar, hurling barbs about how it isn’t fair, it’s a stupid decision, the administration doesn’t care about the fans, on and on and on. Also equally not surprising has been the reaction from IU fans, who have apparently forgotten the last time that BSU and IU met on the turf, their expectations of crushing “that little teacher’s college” didn’t really work out all that well. Hoosier faithful apparently have no interest in traveling to the mighty metropolis of Muncie, IN and they seem quite confident that the crowd at Lucas will be overwhelmingly pro-Indiana.

Of course, there is reason to complain a bit, but only briefly. Yes, it would have been nice to have a Big 10 opponent come to the Scheu. Playing the game in Muncie may have generated a large student turnout (assuming they didn’t go home for Labor Day). Finally, it would have meant a comfortable experience both in cost and planning for season ticket holders and folks local to the Muncie area. Those are the positives and in reality, it’s just another home game albeit against an in-state rival from a BCS conference, which doesn’t happen in Muncie very often. Fans that take that perspective though are missing the overwhelming possibilities for this move. First and foremost is the financial benefit for the Cardinals. This isn’t some sort of neutral site made for television contest. This is still BSU’s home game, which means the revenue stream is significantly widened. Not only are the tickets more expensive, there are more of them to sell, and for a program on a shoestring budget already an increase in revenue is a gifthorse not to be looked in the mouth. So many fans and supporters bemoan the lack of facilities, our inability to pay well for coaches, and the general atmosphere of spendthriftness around the U. Doing all that and then panning this move makes you at best a cynical asshole and at worst a full-blown hypocrite.

This is also an opportunity to get the Indy alums on board with this program and catch the Cards in action. So many of our friends would like to go to games, but the drive to Muncie is just far enough and hassle enough to make other Saturday plans more appealing. A good experience, and hopefully a win, may reel these folks in as the season progresses. Last, but probably not lease despite the fact that no one is really talking about it is the experience for the players. Granted, playing games in Ypsilanti or Oxford I’m sure is exciting to the point of butterflies, but MAC student athletes playing in an NFL stadium is something that they may treasure for a while. All in all… good move.

Welcome to the Program, Now Blow in This
Terry Lantz has had a hell of a first ten days in the Ball State program. Just nine days after being hired by Pete Lembo to coach the safeties, Lantz got stopped and subsequently arrested for DUI at the always treacherous intersection of University and Dill. No word on where he was coming from, but I pray he wasn’t at Dill Street. If that’s the case, his lack of judgment about where to imbibe and poor taste in bars is far more troubling than his decision to get behind the wheel. Lantz blew a .16, which is bombed by any definition and just royally sucks for him and the program. No word on what his punishment will be, whether he’ll keep his job, or what his beverage of choice was. I’ll go with counseling, zero tolerance, keeps the job, and amaretto sours. The good news in all of this is the direct correlation between law breaking and victories. Further proving this new staff’s commitment, they didn’t even wait for the players to screw up and get to meet Muncie’s finest, they grabbed that bull by the horns themselves. Commitment never sleeps. But commitment does deliver mugshot gold:

Is a trial even needed with a photo like this?

We’re in Your Sunshine and Golden States, Stealing Your Recruits
Eric Patterson from Tampa, Florida (according to the Tampa Tribune) is trading in beaches, warm weather, and sunshine for Muncie. Go us! Patterson is a 5’9″ 174 lb corner, who also has experience returning kicks. Patterson picked the Cards over a few FCS offers but also MAC brethren Ohio and Buffalo. Also added to the Lembo fold this past weekend was California OLB Michael Ayers. A general athlete in high school, the 6’2 200-pounder played both LB and QB and chose BSU over Sacramento State and San Jose State. Whether or not this program can get these players from so far out of state to actually complete 4 years remains to be seen, but it’s nice to see the staff reaching out past the de facto borders that the last few staffs placed on recruiting.

Meet Some of Your New Coaches
In a surprising turn of events, the BSU athletics department has been johnny on the spot this offseason with news coming out and actual reasons to visit the website. We’ve long been a proponent of BSU shoring up its digital footprint, so to see our wishes slowly coming to reality is quite refreshing. In what is presumably an effort to ingratiate the new coaching staff with the fanbase, several Q+As have appeared with the assistant coaches and all have been insightful and energizing about this staff’s personality and values. Whether that translates to wins on the field come fall we’ll have to wait and see. Check them out yourself: Justin Lustig, Jay Bateman, Rich Skrosky.