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An Interview with Jason Pinkston

In terms of incoming recruits, one of the most celebrated, heralded, and most excited for prospect is Jason Pinkston. From Glenville, OH, where the Cards have built a pretty formidable pipeline to one of the best schools in football-rich Ohio, Pinkston was clearly a high visibility high reward target for BSU to land this past season.

Defensive backs are by nature difficult to find when it comes to recruiting. It is without question one of the most difficult positions to play, but also one where the adjustment from high school to college is a significant leap. Thankfully, Pinkston comes to Muncie with a great set of physical skills, at 6-0 and 185, Pinkston brings impressive size for division 1, and even more so for the MidAmerican Conference.

Pinkston’s most recent success came as he was invited to be part of the Big 33 football game, an All-Star contest featuring prep stars from Pennsylvania and Ohio. Talent overloads those rosters, and Pinkston was still able to distinguish himself as a player that would excel at the next level. We are exceptionally grateful to have the opportunity to touch base with him.

From OTP…

OverThePylon: Can you sort of recap your experience getting recruited to play Division 1 college football and which BSU coaches were your chief recruiters? What were some of the schools that showed major interest? What were the schools you considered heading to?
JasonPinkston: Coach Parrish was the first to recruit me. He came to my school and offered me a scholarship. Cinci showed major interest as well as Michigan also. Them two were the only other colleges I was considering.

OTP: As a tall as well as fast corner, you’re a highly coveted prospect, especially for the MAC. Would you consider yourself more of a coverage guy or a physical corner?
JP: I would consider myself a little bit of both. My coaches say I’m a great cover corner but I also like to jam receivers and mix it up in the run support also. I want to be a complete cornerback not just a cover corner.

OTP: The corner position at BSU looks like an area with immediate need and opportunity. How much of a contribution are you looking to make immediately? Planning on starting? Any position shifts?
JP: I plan to go down there and do my best. Yes I do expect to compete for a starting spot but if it doesn’t play out that way I’m going to make sure I play my role and do what the coaches ask me to do.

OTP: The offseason has been a transitional period for BSU, with a coaching change, a ton of talent leaving, etc. How did that sit with you as a future Cardinal? Any worries or thoughts about not coming?
JP: Coach Parrish told me he wasn’t going anywhere so I never worried. He told me that he will be here for me and he is. I respect him for keeping his word. I like to compete so when the corners graduated I thought I would have a chance at competing for one of the corner spots.

OTP: This incoming recruiting class has been widely heralded as the best class in years at BSU. Have you had any contact with other incoming recruits? Is the class going to gel?
JP: Yes I talk to Connor Ryan everyday almost so we keep in touch. I also talk to Armand Dehaney the other cornerback we brought in so we’re all just excited for the season and ready to get started. As long as we play as a team and not individuals we will gel.

OTP: What things are you considering majoring in at Ball State? Looking forward to the academic side of the house?
JP: I plan on majoring in education. I know that everything starts with the academics first because I’m a student-athlete.

OTP: Most of our readers know quite a bit about your football prowess on the field. Any hobbies or talents off the field that would surprise some folks?
JP: I run track during the school year so I can keep my speed up for football.

From our readers…

Readers: What was the Big 33 experience like?
JP: The Big 33 was really fun. I like comparing myself to the other D1 players out there so I could see how I rank. I did really well in practice and also in the game. I liked the Big 33 game because it’s all man to man and that’s what I love to play.

Readers: What was it like playing for Glenville and such a well known and respected head coach?
JP: Playing for Glenville… it’s fun and high expectations. Each and every week all the eyes are on you so you have to bring your A game. We play good teams and we’re one of the top teams in the country. It was great because [Coach Ted Ginn, Sr.] teaches us about more than football. He teaches us how to be a better person and become successful in life.

Readers: When is Jason heading to campus to start working out?
JP: The coaches told me to call them after the Big 33 game and we will work something out but I’m trying to get down there ASAP.

Readers: How exciting is it to be able to play with so many of your former prep teammates?
JP: It’s great cause we all play defense and we can be on the field together again at the same time just like in high school… dominating.

Finally, one last one from OTP…

OTP: Anything to say to the Cardinals fans who will have the privilege of watching you over the next few years, Jason?
JP: It’s going to be an exciting year and we look forward to getting better each year.We had a great 09 recruiting class so now it’s time to go to work.

Big thanks to Jason for fielding these questions and giving a great set of answers. The corner position at BSU has the opportunity to really provide the right player a ton of playing time and a great opportunity to succeed from the get-go. Jason certainly has the talent and skills, and from this, it looks like he’s got a great head on his shoulders to go along with athletic skills like whoa. Good luck, Jason!

An Interview with Connor Ryan

OverThePylon is proud as can be to bring you the next installment of chatting with our future Cardinal rockstars. Off the heels of interviews with Ethan Buckles and Eric Williams, OTP was able to touch base with Connor Ryan, incoming freshman and soon to be household name as a wide receiver for the Cardinals.

Ryan hails from St. Ignatius outside of Cleveland, where he was a member of the most recent state championship team. Ryan has all the physical attributes, at 6’2″, 185lbs, while running a 4.59 40-yard dash. The fact that this young man is one of the top wide receivers in a football rich state while playing for a football powerhouse, bodes exceptionally well for future success…

OverThePylon: Can you sort of recap your experience getting recruited to play Division 1 college football and which BSU coaches were your
chief recruiters? What were some of the schools that showed major interest? What were the schools you considered heading to?
ConnorRyan:Getting recruited to play football at a Division 1 college was a dream come true. I love football and playing in college has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. My chief recruiters were coach Parrish and when coach Hoke left coach Lynch stepped in. Both recruited me very well. The schools that showed major interest were mostly all the MAC’s, Virginia, and Northwestern.

OTP: With the wide receiver position sort of a crowded place, do you anticipate being able to play and contribute right away? Is redshirting something that’s being considered?
CR: I was recruited for a reason and that was to contribute right away. I fully anticipate to work hard on the off season and become a major factor in the offense this year. I was always told that they needed me to step up and become a player along the lines of Briggs. As of now I have not been told anything along the lines of red shirting. But I am going to work hard enough to where I don’t have to.

OTP: Give us a well known wide receiver that you would compare yourself to. Additionally, what sort of wide receiver do you admire or idolize?
CR: I would compare myself to Wes Welker because he is a very polished receiver. He is a great route runner, he can also be a possession receiver, and the next play he could beat the DB deep with his speed. I idolize patriots wide receiver Anthony Gonzales. He went to my high school and coached me at a few practices and games. My goal is to work as hard as he did and become just as successful.

OTP: When Coach Hoke was transitioning out of that role in Ball State, what was it like as a recruit? Were you concerned about the direction of the program or the ability to maintain success?
CR: When coach Hoke left I was shocked and confused on what to do. I was worried he would take the whole coaching staff. So I waited a few days. When coach Parrish was announced as the next head coach I was thrilled. I was the first one he called right after his press conference and I knew right then that Ball State’s success would be maintained.

OTP: This incoming recruiting class has been widely heralded as the best class in years at BSU. Have you had any contact with other incoming recruits? Is the class going to gel?
CR: I have met many of the recruits and I think that this class with definitely mesh. This class has a chance to be something special, but at the same time for us to be successful we are going to have to work just as hard as the classes before us.

OTP: Most of our readers know quite a bit about your football prowess on the field. Any hobbies or talents off the field that would surprise some folks?
CR: I like to fish.

From the readers…

Readers: Are you training on campus right now? If not, when will you be training?
CR: I am on campus right now. I arrived Friday, June 12th. I am living with Kelly Page, Briggs Orsbon, Kyle Hoke, Steve Schott, and Scott Kovanda.

Readers: Has there been any discussion as to what receiver you’ll be playing?
CR: As of now X and Z have been mentioned to me.

Readers: What are you looking forward to the most about BSU?
CR: I’m looking forward to playing with the older guys on the team that have put so much work and effort towards this football team making it so successful.

Readers: What was his experience like playing for one of the best high school programs in the country at St. Iggy? What is his favorite memory from that experience?
CR: Playing for Saint Ignatius was a dream of mine as a kid. Every year at Ignatius we are expected to win a state championship. It was really nice to win one my senior year and end a seven year drought. My favorite memory was probably winning the state championship and holding the trophy up with my teammates and having my brother on the team made it that much better.

Readers: What lead him to choose Ball State over his other offers?
CR: I chose Ball State over my other offers because there is a chance for immediate impact as a freshman, which I wanted to take advantage of. Also, coach Parrish has been with me the whole time and he has been honest with me and I feel that he reminds me a lot of my high school coach, which made me feel a lot more comfortable with my decision.

Readers: Where does he see himself fitting in next season on a team with a lot of young WR’s?
CR: There are so many good receivers on the team that I look up to. I am trying to learn from these guys each day. I think I would fit in as a deep threat and a deeper possession guy, which has been hinted towards me already.

And finally, one last one from OTP…

OTP: Anything to say to the Cardinals fans who will have the privilege of watching you over the next few years, Connor?
CR: I want to tell the fans that Ball State football needs their support and with their support there is no reason that we can’t win a MAC championship within the next few years.

Big, big, big major league thanks to Connor for taking the time to chat a bit with us and let the readers see what a great young man he is. This recruiting class will be something extremely special if their on field successes and personalities are even half of what they are off. Good luck, Connor!

An Interview With Ethan Buckles

OverThePylon is proud to present our next installment of catching up with the new recruits for Ball State as they make their way to Muncie to begin their freshman season next fall. Today’s guest is Ethan Buckles, offensive and defensive star from Indianapolis’ Cardinal Ritter High School who was kind enough to answer not only our questions, but questions from some of our readership as well.

Ethan comes to the Cards with experience as both a defensive end and a tight end, with a 6’7″ height, 225lb. weight, and a verified 4.9 40 yard dash time. Big, strong, experienced, and fast, but most importantly, an incredibly nice young man and a great representative for the program, University, and football team.

Buckles looks to learn from either a defensive front 7 that will rival nearly any team on the Cardinals’ schedule this year, or from tight ends like Madaris Grant as they help him adjust to the rigors of division 1 FBS football.

OverThePylon: Can you sort of recap your experience getting recruited to play Division 1 college football? What were some of the schools that showed major interest?
EthanBuckles: Coming from such a small school it was mostly about marketing myself as a player to try and get some recognition from colleges. I went to a lot of junior days and camps for the schools that were interested in me. I filled out all the requests for information for any school who asked me too. I had interest from the University of Virginia, Purdue, IU, Cincinnati, Northern Illinois, and some other schools, as well as Ball State. Ball State was the first to offer and I committed the next day, so I’m not sure if more offers would have come or not.

OTP: You’re certainly unique in the fact that your skills translate to both sides of the football. What do you like best about playing offense? How about playing defense?
EB: I like offense because I love scoring. Not me personally but as a unit. I’m a football junkie and I love the strategies and so I love it when a play works perfectly and we score. And I love defense because you always have to be attacking.

OTP: With the tight end positions and defensive front unit sort of crowded places, do you anticipate being able to play and contribute right away? Is redshirting something that’s being considered?
EB: I have not actually talked about redshirting at all with the coaches but that could possibly be in their plans. I’m going to go in with the mindset that I’m ready to play and work hard this summer. Hopefully they’ll think I’ll be ready to help the team at the end of the summer.

OTP: When Coach Hoke was transitioning out of that role in Ball State, what was it like as a recruit? Were you concerned about the direction of the program or the ability to maintain success?
EB: I was a little down for a bit because I knew Coach Hoke. He worked me out and he offered me a scholarship. But once I learned that my scholarship would be honored and that Coach Parrish was going to take the job, I was fine. He’s a great coach with a great history.

OTP: This incoming recruiting class has been widely heralded as the best class in years at BSU. Have you had any contact with other incoming recruits? Is the class going to gel?
EB: I’m very excited to come in with a class this talented. The reputations of all these guys speak for themselves. I’ve met a lot of them at games and on my official visit and other things. They seem like cool guys. I think we’ll be able to do a lot over these next four years.

OTP: Most of our readers know quite a bit about your football prowess on the field. Any hobbies or talents off the field that would surprise some folks?
EB: I’m a very competitive person so I like mostly any games like golfing, bowling, and things like that. I am also a very accomplished opener and eater of crab legs.

From the readers…

Readers: Where are you expecting to play this season? DE or TE?
EB: I was recruited by Ball State as a defensive end, and they haven’t told me anything different. But I also know they’ve had some injury issues at tight end so we’ll see. I’ll do anything really… long snap, special teams, anything.

Readers: How big of a leap is it from Class AA football to Div 1 College Football?
EB: We were actually only class A my senior season. But we played a lot of bigger schools. In the regular season we were undefeated and that included a team who would wind up winning the 2A championship also a team ranked 6 in 3A. That being said it will still be a huge transition. For me, the biggest difference will be simply not being the biggest on the field anymore.

Readers: What attracted you to Ball State?
EB: Ball State is very close to my home so all my family can come see me play and I can go home and visit. Also many family members have gone there. My mom, dad, two uncles and a brother are alumni. They are a program on the rise and I wanted to be a part of that.

Readers: How do you use your height to your advantage when playing DE?
EB: My height gives me great length so that I can get into a blocker before they can get to me. Also I can get into the passing lanes and I’m hard to throw over.

One last one from OTP…

OTP: Anything to say to the Cardinals fans who will have the privilege of watching you over the next few years, Ethan?
EB: This is definitely a program on the rise. That much has been evident over the past two years. Over the next few years me and my class will continue that trend and do bigger and better things.

Big ups to Ethan for talking a bit with OTP and our readership. Ethan is just another example of quality young men who wear the Cardinal and White, and who represent simply the best sort of student athlete around. Whether or not he is successful on the field is not even a question, it is only a question as to how soon the rest of the MAC and the country begin to remember the name, “Ethan Buckles”.

An Interview with Eric Williams

OverThePylon was exceptionally fortunate in getting a chance to touch base with incoming BSU recruit Eric Williams. Williams, a 5’11” Warren Central running back who also happens to be the cousin of one MiQuale Lewis, runs a 4.6 40 and looks to carry on the great excellence at tailback that his distant gene pool has created. Williams turned heads left and right over the winter as he selected BSU over BCS conference schools, and did so in the midst of a coaching change and the high level of uncertainty and doubt that most recruits feel amidst the change over.

OverThePylon: Much has been made about the fact that you chose Ball State over major BCS conference schools. Aside from your cousin, Miquale, what were some of the reasons that led you to BSU?
Eric Williams: The main reason I chose Ball State is the atmosphere. Its close to home and it was a top 25 school which presented itself to me as an opportunity to play as a true freshman. Also, to better myself around the person who I really learned every thing i know from and that’s Quale.

OTP: Speaking of MiQuale, the backfield for the Cardinals is going to be quite a crowded spot next year. Are you hoping to compete for a spot in the rotation? Is redshirting something that’s being considered?
EW: There are a lot of backs at Ball State. Some have attributes I don’t but I have attributes that most of them don’t have. I’m more of a slot receiver type running back. I like to bail out the quarterback, keep him safe, and make his completion number go sky high. As for me in the rotation, it has been talked about but I have to prove myself first and that’s what I intend to do is prove why I deserve to be on the field as a freshman.

OTP: When Coach Hoke was transitioning out of that role in Ball State, what was it like as a recruit? Were you concerned about the direction of the program or the ability to maintain success?
EW: When coach hoke left my respect for him never changed but his word became nothing more but an open statement to me. The day before he left he had gave me his word that he would be staying, then the next morning he left. At that point I was gonna decommit and take my offer at the University of Louisville, but I realized that Coach Hoke didn’t recruit me and make my feelings for Ball State what they were. It was Coach Stan Parrish, and most of all, Coach Eddie Faulkner.

OTP: This incoming recruiting class has been widely heralded as the best class in years at BSU. Have you had any contact with other incoming recruits? Is the class going to gel?
EW: I haven’t really gotten to know any of the other recruits but when i get to school I’m hoping to have a nice relationship with my teammates to make this class what it is expected to be… the best class.

OTP: Most of our readers know quite a bit about your football prowess on the field. Any hobbies or talents off the field that would surprise some folks?
EW: I’m not really a video game type guy. I enjoy playing and reading and playing with my niece and nephew. Also I coach my siblings and keep my head on straight in order to show them that they can do it too.

OTP: Be honest, now… who’s a better running back? You or your cousin?
EW: All kidding aside, Quale is the better running back. He is more experienced and I’m still catching up, but i think my break away speed and will to hit is more up than his.

OTP: Anything to say to the Cardinals fans who will have the privilege of watching you over the next few years, Eric?
EW: To all the Cardinals out there who know me and who don’t, I’m here to improve Ball State football and before I leave I will have a MAC Championship and hopefully a Heisman trophy!

A big shout out and many thanks to Eric, and here’s to watching this young man run roughshod over the MAC! And you can bet that OTP will be championing his cause when it comes time to fire up the hype wagon.

Ball State Cardinals Recruiting 2009

Most of the day was silent for the Ball State Cardinals. Not because Letters of Intent were not pouring in, but simply because the assigned media and the administration didn’t have the resources or the need to announce breaking news commitment by commitment. Either way, the news is out now, and here is the list of young men who decided that Ball State was where they were officially going to play their college ball:

Jelani Alford RB 5-9 175 Cincinnati, Ohio (Withrow)
David Brown RB 5-10 195 Shelbyville, Ind. (Shelbyville)
Otis Brown WR 5-9 165 Gainesville, Fla. (Gainesville)
Ethan Buckles DE 6-7 220 Indianapolis, Ind. (Cardinal Ritter)
Justin Cruz LB 5-11 198 Green Cove Springs, Fla. (Fleming Island)
Armand Dehaney CB 5-8 177 Maple Heights, Ohio (Walsh Jesuit)
Theon Dixon Jr. LB 5-11 190 Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)
Zane Fakes TE 6-3 235 Plainfield, Ind. (Plainfield)
Travis Freeman LB 6-0 212 Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)
Jacob Green TE 6-3 238 Wyoming, Ohio (Wyoming)
Donovan Jarrett DL 6-2 300 Hamilton, Ohio (Hamilton)
Brandon Kish RB 5-11 205 Amherst, Ohio (Steele)
Keith Langtry WR 6-1 180 Prairie Village, Kansas (Rockhurst)
Tony Martin LB 6-1 205 Park Hills, Mo. (Central) Kory Schweiss
Aaron Mershman QB 6-2 210 Bowling Green, Ohio (Bowling Green)
Evan Neff OL 6-4 255 Centerville, Ohio (Archbishop Alter)
Kitt O’Brien OL 6-6 300 Walton, Ind. (Lewis Cass)
Matthew Page OL 6-6 300 East Chicago, Ind. (Central)
Jason Pinkston CB 6-2 180 Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)
Connor Ryan WR 6-1 185 Westlake, Ohio (St. Ignatius)
Seth White WR 5-10 185 Bexley, Ohio (Bexley)
Eric Williams RB 5-10 200 Indianapolis, Ind. (Warren Central)

Some things to note about this particular class:

  • The pipeline to Ohio continues, as the overwhelming majority comes from Ohio, 12 to be exact. They compliment 6 Indiana players, 2 Florida players, and 1 apiece from Kansas and Missouri.
  • Pinkston was rumored to be a Toledo signee for sure as recently as several days ago. Great pick up for the Cardinals.
  • The coaching staff lost none of the 18 players who had given their verbals to the former coaching staff and picked up a few additional ones. To lose no one in a recruiting class given a coaching change is a great feat.
  • This class is most likely not complete. I would expect a couple more signings, whether they be players interested in the Cardinals all along, or players who, for whatever reason, lose their scholarship offer at a bigger school. If it gets no better, it’s still a tremendous class for BSU and in the running for best in the conference.

So that gets us through signing day for the Cardinals. And not a moment too soon. Kudos to Stan Parrish and the staff for putting together a class capable of continuing the trend of success in Muncie. Given the will to work hard, being able to be coached up, and the staff continuing to demand excellence, this is a class which should be able to compete for MAC titles for years to come. Today, like always, it’s a great day to be a Cardinal!

National Signing Day Open Thread

In this particular thread, we’ll be posting the LOIs that are officially announced by UK and Ball State. As well as posting some other various commentary through the day. Feel free to comment at your own risk in the little comments section below. You will need to refresh this page to see the latest information.

It’s almost time for the “big” announcements, starting most notably with Darren Myles at 9:45.

For The Cats:


9:00am
: First LOIs roll in for the Cats. Brian Adams, LaRod King, Dakotah Tyler, and Larry Warford become the first signees, along with Mark Crawford, who is already enrolled at UK.

9:30am: Second round of LOIs roll in. This group includes signatures from Qua Huzzie, Tristian Johnson, Demetri Merritt, Ryan Mossakowski, and Morgan Newton. The two QBs are locked in.

10:45am: Third round of LOIs in for the Cats. Jordan Aumiller, Justin Bean, Mister Cobble, Terrell Mitchell, Ryan Mosby, Sam Simpson, and Ridge Wilson. In The-Ones-We-Didn’t-Get category goes Darren Myles, who put his Tennessee hat on with great pride, and made me realize once again, that Volunteer Orange is probably the worst color in the universe.

12:00pm: High noon brings with it more LOIs from the Kentucky stable. Adding there names to the “Signed” category, Anthony Kendrick, Christopher Matthews, Donald Russell, Jarvis Walker, Myron Walker, Patrick Ligon, and Martevius Neloms. That brings the total so far to 24. Additionally, the Cats have lost out in the Demond Dennis lottery, as the RB gave his LOI to New Mexico.

12:30pm: Kevin Mitchell, he of 6’7″ 280lb fame, has sent his LOI to the Wildcats. That’s commitment #25. Still waiting for Dante Rumph and Josh Morgan, and we’re still holding out hope for Dequin Evans.

4:00pm: The Cats get LOIs from Donta Rumph and Jonathon George. They also land a TITANIC LOI from Dequin Evans. Evans is a steal, chose the Cats over Louisville, and was a coin flip as of this morning if not a UofL lean. Welcome home, fellas. That brings us to 27 signees and one we’re still waiting on (Josh Morgan).

For the Cardinals:

9:30am: There’s a real lack of information coming out about the BSU class. Will update whenever news hits, though.

3:30pm: Received the official announcement and will do a recap post later today or early tomorrow. No lost verbals, as well as some new ones.

National Signing Day Is Here!

It’s 8:30am on National Signing Day, the special day on the calendar when grown men pin their hopes and dreams for their football team on the signatures of a group of teenagers who may or may not pan out the way everyone expects them to. It’s exciting by nature, as it’s sort of the NFL Draft for college, but with Ball State and Kentucky, today comes with some measured trepidation.

For the Cardinals, it’s a matter of whether or not each of the players who have verballed to the Cards actually follows through with their letter of intent. The class itself is being heralded as one of the best in recent memory (if not the best) but that could certainly change as the day progresses and signatures don’t trickle in the way they are expected to. A coaching change usually produces a few defections, but as of now, no one appears imminently ready to give their Letter of Intent (LOI) to another program.

The Wildcats and their fans are nervous for a different reason. Most of UK’s commitments are solidly in the bag, but there are eyes on several key prospects. Three in particular, as Kentucky has a chance to land DB Darren Myles. The Atlanta, GA prospect is considering Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, and the Cats. Myles would be a standout prospect, and another 4-star player added to an already strong defense. The Cats are also waiting for DE DeQuin Evans. Evans, a JUCO from California is choosing between Louisville and Kentucky. The difference? Surprisingly enough, academics. Evans has the possibility of enrolling at Louisville in the spring, and beginning workouts and classes, an option not available to him because of transfer differences at UK. Evans would shore up a defensive line in need of shoring up, and this would be a nice get for the Cats. DT Darius McMullin is choosing today between Vandy and UK, and the 3-star is more of the same as Evans, as the Cats could use some depth on the D-line.

Most interesting for the Wildcats is RB Justin Green. Green, a RB from Male High School in Louisville, had previously given his verbal to Ohio State. Kentucky stayed in the game, and was considered a possibility for a National Signing Day surprise, but it appears from various recruiting websites that Green gave his verbal last night to Illinois. Surprising, but not shocking. And it isn’t over till the fat lady sings. Or signs. Or whatever the appropriate analogy is.

Regardless of the outcome or signatures of two or three in this class, both schools are looking at one of, it not the, best class their football program has signed.

Recruiting Roundup: The Ball State Defense

With around one week to go until National Signing Day, OTP continues it’s coverage of recruiting. We’ll be addressing both Ball State and Kentucky’s commitments as a build up to National Signing Day on both sides of the football. RV will be along with his recruiting recap of his top classes and players to watch in the Class of 09. Today’s edition is the Ball State defense.

Recruiting Roundup
Ball State Defense

As mentioned in this piece, the science of recruiting is by nature, as inexact as it could possibly get. Internet sites, fanbases, ESPN, etc. are basing revenue, interest, and credibility on the choices of 17 and 18 year olds across the country and fans all over the college football landscape are eating it up with a passion and voracity unmatched. Keep in mind, these kids are not even high school graduates, so flip flops and/or mind changes are to be expected. It’s like a kid on Christmas morning, I would imagine, having the latest and shiniest toy take the attention away from what could possibly be the best thing under the tree. Here comes Michigan with their shiny new legos and Playstation 3s and suddenly, your Ball State Mr. Potato Head isn’t quite so sexy.

Recruiting to a school like Ball State isn’t an easy task. It is the red headed step child of a conference already seen as the red headed step child of the college football universe. The facilities are substandard, the coaches are underpaid, the support of the surrounding town and community is fickle at best, and it is the job of those underpaid coaches to tell a recruit that this the place for them. Forget about all those fancy gyms and indoor training facilities, young man, because Muncie, Indiana is where it’s at. Pay no attention to the national columnist flapping his jowls about how shoddily the place is run… suit up on Saturdays, my boy!

Regardless of the backstories or the incessant screaming at no one in particular from one national columnist, Stan Parrish and company have quietly built a class that is impressive certainly for BSU, and is in the running for best class in the MAC. The defense is solid, and there is still room to grow. This list is by no means final, but does appear solidly in place. Defections on the defensive side of the football would surprise me.

Here’s who’s verbaled to the Cardinals to date on the defensive side:

Name: Alex Andrus
Position: DE
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 244
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: 142
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Ethan Buckles
Position: DE
Height: 6’7″
Weight: 230
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Donovan Jarrett
Position: DT
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 303
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: Not Rated

Name: Travis Freeman
Position: LB
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 205
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: 53 (S)
Scout Rating: *
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Tony Martin
Position: LB
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 205
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: 154
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Justin Cruz
Position: LB
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 205
Scout Position Rank: 108
ESPN Position Rank: 145
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Theon Dixon
Position: LB/S
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 195
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: Not Rated

Name: Armand Dehaney
Position: CB
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 188
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: 95
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Are the Cardinals done on defense? Probably not. I would venture a guess that the defensive backfield gets solidified with a couple more additions, and the addition of one or more linebackers or linemen wouldn’t surprise me. The class appears solid, with few, if any, making waves that would indicate a potential shift.

In general this is a solid class in both quantity and quality, though as many will point out, the true talent lies mostly on the offensive side of the football in this recruiting class. As the new staff has a season to evaluate talent the class of 2010 looks to be a defensive minded class for the system now in place. In truth, this particular defensive class needed to be serviceable. And they far surpassed that mark.

Pens meet paper for National Signing Day on February 4th.

Recruiting Roundup: The Kentucky Defense

With around one week to go until National Signing Day, OTP continues it’s coverage of recruiting. We’ll be addressing both Ball State and Kentucky’s commitments as a build up to National Signing Day on both sides of the football. RV will be along with his recruiting recap of his top classes and players to watch in the Class of 09. Today’s edition is the Kentucky defense.

Recruiting Roundup
The Kentucky Defense

To say I’m surprised about the holes, or more specifically, the lack thereof, to fill on the Kentucky defense would be an understatement of the highest order. Three underclassmen were testing their draft waters, and most, if not all (myself included), figured at least one (corner Trevard Lindley) would be playing on Sunday next fall. As it stands, however, this Kentucky defense will only need to fill 6 starting spots as opposed to the 7 or higher variety.

Coaches Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips have landed an impressive defensive class, currently 12 strong, and may get stronger. The Wildcats are still in the running for DeQuin Evans, a JuCo defensive end, but the staff, and the fans, may have to wait until closer to signing day, if not on signing day itself. The Cats are also listed as a potential destination for several defensive backs and a handful of linebackers. The class appears solid, though a defection or two wouldn’t surprise me, most notably Ridge Wilson, who has taken several more visits since committing to Kentucky very early in the process. Messageboard scuttlebutt varies by the day, and while I expect Wilson to be suiting up in Kentucky blue next year, it’s not out of the question he lands somewhere else.

If the class gets no stronger it is still a remarkable defensive class, and with the return to Lexington of NFL potentials like Micah Johnson, Jeremy Jarmon, and Lindley, this is a defense that is transitioning from talented to talented and deep, something the Wildcats haven’t been able to say in recent memory.

Here’s who has verbally committed to the Wildcats to date:

Name: Tristian Johnson
Position: DE
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 222
Scout Position Rank: 101
ESPN Position Rank: 142
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Dante Rumph
Position: DE
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 260
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked (PostGraduate)
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked (PostGraduate)
Scout Rating: ****
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Patrick Ligon
Position: DE
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 255
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: *
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Myron Walker
Position: DT
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 264
Scout Position Rank: 119
ESPN Position Rank: 31
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Mister Cobble
Position: DT
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 270
Scout Position Rank: 63
ESPN Position Rank: 126
Scout Rating: ***
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Mark Crawford
Position: DT
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 305
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked (Junior College)
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked (Junior College)
Scout Rating: ***
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Qua Huzzie
Position: LB
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 205
Scout Position Rank: 32
ESPN Position Rank: 88
Scout Rating: ***
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Jarvis Walker
Position: LB/S
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 202
Scout Position Rank: 94
ESPN Position Rank: 45
Scout Rating: ***
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Ridge Wilson
Position: LB
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 207
Rivals Position Rank: 73
ESPN Position Rank: 108
Scout Rating: ***
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Demetri Merritt
Position: LB
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 200
Scout Position Rank: 36
ESPN Position Rank: 106
Scout Rating: ***
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Ryan Mosby
Position: LB/S
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 197
Rivals Position Rank: 74
ESPN Position Rank: 132
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Martavius Neloms
Position: DB
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 175
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: *
Rivals Rating: **

The question remains if this class is talented or talented for the SEC, as there is a distinction. My initial gut reaction says there are some jewels on the defensive side of the ball, and with another commitment or two that the Cats could land, this might be one of the classes for the ages. Once a UK fan realizes that expecting dozens of commitments from 5-star blue chippers is relatively impossible, then the true perspective on what a feat this class is becomes clear. No, we are not USC. No, we are not Florida or Alabama. However, the talent gap that is between those schools and Big Blue is getting smaller and smaller with each class that Joker Phillips and Rich Brooks bring in.

At bare minimum, Kentucky was able to fill some gaps and prepare for the future with the senior class of 2009 departing a year from now. There is potential for this class and the prospects within to see significant playing time while not being relied on to be world beaters. They can learn from a defensive unit that showed flashes of greatness last year, and these gents will only add to that performance. All in all, a solid effort from the staff and a class that UK fans should be excited about.

Tomorrow OTP will spotlight the Ball State defense, and will recap the Kentucky recruiting class as a whole along with where they shake out amongst the SEC on Thursday.

Recruiting Roundup: The Ball State Offense

With around two weeks to go until National Signing Day, OTP begins it’s coverage of recruiting. We’ll be addressing both Ball State and Kentucky’s commitments as a build up to national signing day on both sides of the football. RV will be along with his recruiting recap next week of his top classes and players to watch in the Class of 09. Today’s edition is the Ball State offense.

Recruiting Roundup
Ball State Offense

As a disclaimer of sorts, recruiting, in general, is like throwing darts. Student athletes verbal and continue to be wooed, leaving room for plenty of surprises thrown in on National Signing Day. This is especially a difficult aspect of recruiting for mid-major programs, and doubly so for a mid-major program that had significant staff turnover. Most commits with the exception of Otis Brown have voiced their desire to still be a Cardinal despite Brady Hoke’s departure, and that speaks volumes to the hand that Stan Parrish has had in recruiting as well as the assistants that have stuck around in Muncie. Having said that, a defection or two wouldn’t shock me.

The offense is where most of the focus will be for the 2008 Cardinals team. Gone are Nate Davis, Donte Love, Darius Hill, and perhaps most importantly, three starters from a talented and productive offensive line. The Cardinals will look to replace Davis with either Tanner Justice or Kelly Page, and MiQuale Lewis looks to be the focus of the offensive attack to allow whomever is taking snaps at QB to get comfortable. The 2009 BSU offense will take a game or two to click. Thankfully, the first two games on the 09 schedule are home games, against North Texas and New Hampshire.

The depth of the offense will be put to the test, especially on the offensive line. The talent is there, and many of the new faces around the Cardinals’ lockerroom will have the opportunity to play immediately if they earn it. Here’s who has verbally committed to the Cardinals on the offensive side of the football… as of now:

Name: Aaron Mershman
Position: QB
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 200
Scout Position Rank: 108
ESPN Position Rank: 95
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Eric Williams
Position: RB
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 199
Scout Position Rank: 160
ESPN Position Rank:113
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Jelani Alford
Position: RB
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 175
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: 119
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: David Brown
Position: RB
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 190
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Brandon Kish
Position: RB
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 200
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank:Not Ranked
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Otis Brown
Position: WR/Ath
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 165
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: 131 (Ath)
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: Not Rated

Name: Keith Langtry
Position: WR
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 181
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank:189
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Connor Ryan
Position: WR
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 185
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank:157
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Seth White
Position: WR
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 174
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Jacob Green
Position: TE
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 235
Scout Position Rank: 102
ESPN Position Rank: 27
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: ***

Name: Kitt O’Brien
Position: OL
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 295
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Evan Neff
Position: OL
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 245
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: **
Rivals Rating: **

Name: Matthew Page
Position: OL
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 300
Scout Position Rank: Not Ranked
ESPN Position Rank: Not Ranked
Scout Rating: *
Rivals Rating: **

Overall, the class itself is fairly complete, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a couple of additions to this list come signing day. The new coaches may be bringing in a couple of recruits that have verballed elsewhere, and as the bigger programs’ classes begin to take shape, there may be some table scraps left for the right program at the right time. Look for a pickup of an offensive line commitment or two before the class is truly complete on the offensive side of the football.

Pens meet paper for Letter of Intent Signing Day on February 4th.

Who, in your mind, is the gem of this class?