It was a big day for Ball State football, and there were plenty of reasons that Coach Pete Lembo had a smile on his face.
The Cardinal Coaching Staff had just successfully compiled one of the strongest classes in school history – turning in 21 commitments to add to a team that went 9-4 a season ago and advanced to the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.
Here is a look at each player broken down by position groups. First, the offense:
This group is led by, arguably the top prospect in the class in TE Calvin Blank. The 6-4 230 TE from Terra Haute, IN (Vigo) is an excellent receiver that can split out as well as play the normal position with his hand in the dirt. An effective blocker, the 3-star commit will first see himself on the field in situations where he can make plays and create mismatches in the passing game. I feel like Blank, despite Ball State having several strong TEs, playing right away. He is just too good to keep off of the field.
At QB, the Cardinals sign Jack Milas from Rolling Meadows, IL. Even though Milas flew under the radar during his high school career, the 6-2 QB still threw for over 2,700 yards, 30 TDs and completed 65% of his passes as a senior. Milas has a strong arm and a good feel for the position. He makes smart plays and opts to check down if his #1 option is not there. Milas will be an obvious redshirt as a freshman, but will surely compete with Ozzie Mann for the starting position in 2014 after Keith Wenning graduates.
At WR, the Cardinals loaded up in 2012, so it wasn’t a top priority, but the staff still came out with a very skilled, very athletic WR is Aaron Clay from Eastern Alamance High School in North Carolina. Clay, who is one of seven commits from the Tar Heel state and one of 5 Cardinal commits to participate in the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas where he was named captain of the North Carolina team. Clay is a strong WR that is athletic and can line up in the slot and also make plays on jet sweeps and bubble screens. Clay will likely redshirt with the amount of WRs in front of him, but look for big things as he will mold into a Slot for the Cardinals.
Teddy Williamson, a 5-9 175 RB from Missouri, was the lone RB that was signed by Lembo and staff. Williamson is a fast and skilled RB that also will make plays in the screen and passing games. Williamson graduated early, so he will be ahead of the curve for freshman right away. However, with the amount of Cardinal RBs returning a redshirt will be likely. If he does play, it will be mostly as a situational guy.
The offensive line added 5 commitments which will help sure up the depth of the unit.
Headlining the group is 6-4 300 Guard Vinnie Palazeti from Flint, MI (Powers Catholic). Palazeti is a beast of a lineman that plays with great power and determination. He moves well, and does a great job when pulling. Vinnie is a play to the whistle kind of guy and a maximum effort player. While Vinnie will certainly redshirt as he acclimates himself to college football, we do expect big things down the road from him.
Also signing up is 6-3 270 Pat Maloney of Park Ridge, IL (Main South). Maloney was one of the players that racked up the most offers and his play shows while. A smart and instinctive player, Maloney uses his quickness and balance to great effect. Maloney also will redshirt, but we see him as being an effective guard or center down the line.
Jarrid Lloyd, a 6-5 260 OT from Benet Academy in Illinois, is a long and athletic OT prospect. He has a tremendous upside thanks to his athleticism and long arms. He will certainly have a redshirt season in front of him because of his need to add weight, but Lloyd has the skills to produce in the long run.
Speaking of tremendous size and length, Ball State also added 6-7 330 OT Haris Vrabac of Warren, MI (Mott). Vrabac is a beast whose best football is in front of him. He clearly has the size to be a force in the Mid American Conference and after a year in the weight room, he will be in a position for playing time right away.
The final signee for the offensive line is JUCO transfer P.J. Scott of Northeast Oklahoma A&M. Scott, a 6-3 295, has the size and experience to step in and play at several positions. We like him to make an impact and possibly start on one of the guard spots opposite Jordan Hansel. Scott should be able to step and contribute right away on an offensive line that graduates several key contributors.
Stay tuned tomorrow as we take a look at the defensive recruits and special teams.