Ball State welcomes back two of its starting, and top receiving targets from a season ago in Kevonn Mabon and Slot Corey Lacanaria. The two both posted solid, but modest numbers in Pete Lembo's conservative, short passing game. Both will be counted on heavily in a much higher octane and velocity attack under new Head Coach Mike Neu.
Aside from Mabon and Lacanaria, who teamed with future NFL player Jordan Williams and the graduated Chris Shillings to form last season's regular rotation of receivers. The depth is sparse and cause for concern for those that follow the program.
Mabon, a 5th year senior, has been a steady, solid contributor since first suiting up for the Cardinals. Last season, he hauled in 70 catches, which ranked second behind Williams' 72, but only managed 745 yards receiving 2 touchdowns. Mabon is capable of more productivity than those numbers suggest. At a solid 6-2 219, Mabon is built to stretch the field and was called upon to do that repeatedly during his first 3 seasons in a Cardinal uniform. This makes me feel like last season's career low of 10.6 ypc and 2 touchdowns was an anomaly. Look for Mabon to be back to his old self, stretching the field under Neu and also being counted upon to use his strong, physical frame to make plays in the screen game.
Lacanaria, a smaller built junior, is a capable inside receiver. The 5-8 165 receiver caught a respectable 45 passes, but, like Mabon, was not overly productive at picking up yardage. Lacanaria only grabbed 2 touchdown passes and picked up 376 yards on the season. His lack of production was not because of a lack of talent, but because of the previous offenses use of him only in screens and short, comeback routes.
After those two though, production drops considerably. Jordan Hogue will compete for a starting spot after compiling 11 receptions and a touchdown a year ago as a junior. Hogue is a thin 6-0 182 outside receiver who is a solid route runner that is fully capable to step up after backing up Williams.
The only other receiver with any career production returning is 5th year senior Cywettnie Brown. The rail thin (6-0 162) Brown is a true speedster and will stretch the field effectively.
Also back from last season is 5th year former walk-on Aaron Hepp and 4th year junior Slot Ralph Smith. One final piece is unproven Devin Reece. The 6-1 212 Jr has not seen the field much, but comes with a great frame and has been excelling in practice this spring.