Once again the Cardinals, who for the past two seasons struggled with depth, will again be strong – thanks to the verbal commitments from three top prospects and the return of their top three players at the position.
Ball State had, in 2008, 3 strong TE/Hbacks that were used in a myriad of ways. The Cardinals had pass catching and field stretching skills from Darius Hill, blocking and sure hands from Madaris Grant and blocking from Hback Chris Clancy (who also played RB). After Hill and Clancy graduated, 2009 looked like it would be another strong year for TEs, but Grant's season (and career) was cut short due to a knee injury in the first game.
Flash forward to 2011, the Cardinals will welcome back Zane Fakes, a 6-3 235 TE who is capable as both a run blocker and a receiver but will be coming off a knee injury suffered this season. Also back will be blocker David Schneider, the Akron game hero, and HBack Aaron Mershman, a converted QB. Those three at full strength will be a welcome sight, but the Cardinals will have even more depth who can be counted on to add quality depth.
Noel, a 6-1 240 Hback from Columbus, IN, should be a big boost of help in blocking and brings extra speed and athleticism to the passing game.
McCord, a 6-3 220 TE from Michigan, will be counted on as a field stretcher, bringing WR skills to the TE position. Expect McCord to be split out as a TE as well as lining up with his hand in the dirt.
Scott, a 6-3 235 TE from Indianapolis Warren Central, is another solid blocker that can also make plays in the passing game. Scott is a true TE, meaning that he will be used primarily with his hand in the dirt and should add to Schneider's skill set as a blocker.
But the Cardinals probably aren't done at the position, they still have offers out on a couple of TEs and a sharp eye on Perry, OH TE Anthony Kukwa, another long and lean (6-4 215) TE that can split wide and make plays down field. If all players sign in a few months, look for the Cardinals to once again have the deepest and most talented TE group in the Mid American Conference.