Every coach will tell you that you win and lose games in the trenches and Ball State and new Head Coach Mike Neu is no exception. With the Cardinals losing 3 starters and another top reserve from their two deep at offensive line, the need to fill the holes left by that group is huge.
To fill those needs on the interior of the offensive line, Neu and staff brought in a trio of capable players along with two players that can play outside or inside depending on the need.
Dominick Mathis, 6-2 322, Indianapolis (Warren Central) – Mathis is the lone project of the group and that is merely because he has some work to do in reshaping his body. Mathis is a pure road grader of an guard. He is like a mountain at 322 and tough to get around. He has longer than expected arms and moves his feet well despite his size. A year in the weight room will do wonders for him.
Chris Beech, 6-1 302, Kettering, OH (Archbishop Alter) – Beech is a little on the short side, but what he lacks in he more than makes up for in athleticism and skill. Beech was the top OLineman from one of the perennial powers in Ohio – Archbishop Alter. As a OC, he has quick hands and quick feet and displays the ability to double effectively and work to the second level with ease. Because of his hand quickness, Beech is adept at picking up inside blitzes and stunting/surprise linemen in his face at the snap. He just flat out doesn’t get beat.
T.J. Beltavski, 6-1 287, Cleveland (Benedictine) – Beltavski is a stud. Flat out. He is still a bit of a work in progress from a fundamental standpoint, but he has three major traits that every offensive lineman should have, he is strong, athletic and intelligent. If you ever get a chance, check out this kid on youtube. Not only is he a major powerlifter, but he is also a black belt in Judo and Taekwondo. He strength and the athleticism and flexibility he learned as in martial arts means that T.J. has a leg up on most interior lineman in college.
Anthony Todd, 6-3 325, Yorktown, IN (Yorktown) – Todd is a plug and play guy. As a prep, he was able to see time (as a 4 year starter) at every offensive line spot. This versatility will bode well for him in college. Todd doesn’t have the ideal size to play on the edge, but he is capable of holding his own. His true ability will be shown when playing at the guard spot where he can use his sheer size and strength to unload on defensive players. He is athletic enough to pull effectively and is stout at working off the double team and into the second level.
Kaleb Slaven, 6-4 255, Muncie, IN (Delta) – Another area product (Todd as well), Slaven is the crown jewel of the offensive linemen in the class. A grade A athlete who moonlights as a center on the basketball team and also played DE and TE in high school. Slaven is just learning his new position, but has the physical tools and skill to make it a smooth transition. A year in the weight room bulking up and this young man will be vying for a starting role on the outside. Slaven moves very well and has a frame to bulk up and keep that athleticism. He has long arms and the ability to get out in the open and hit smaller, faster targets in the secondary. Slaven is adept in pass pro using good feet and quick hands to keep pass rushers at bay.