What We Saw: The offensive line returns the majority of its starting 5 (3 full time starters, 1 who started the second half of the season and another who started 1 game) with only one full time starter (Drake Miller) graduating. The five who will start will shift around a bit, but should be able to adjust well.
In the middle, 5th year senior Vinnie Palazeti returns after starting every game (1 at guard, 11 at center). Palazeti never played center prior to a season ago, but was able to learn quickly and proved to be one of the better ones in the Mid-American Conference. Look for Palazeti, with a year of experience under his belt, to be even better this season.
At guard there is one returning starter and one who was expected to start a season ago. Back is 5th year senior Pat Maloney. The line’s resident tough guy brings plenty of experience and attitude to the interior. Maloney missed part of spring ball with a back injury, but should rebound and be ready for fall camp. Also back and moving into a full time starting role is R-So Andrew Poenitsch. The slightly undersized Poenitsch, who was originally slated to be the starting Center a year ago before he was injured, moves one spot over to start at guard.
At tackle, back is big and athletic R-Jr Kadin Booker. The 6-6 300 tackle will protect QB Riley Neal’s blindside. On the other side will be returning starter Alex Joss who will move over from guard to OT.
Projected Depth Chart: Starters will be, as listed above, Booker and Joss at OT, Poentisch and Maloney at OG and Palazeti at OC. Backing them up will be a work in progress but will include R-Fr Kaleb Slaven and Chris Beech along with veterans Grant Williamson and Malik King.
What Happens When The New Class Arrives: Nothing much. Ball State brings in two new OL prospects in Jake McKenzie (who enrolled early) and Curtis Blackwell, both are capable of pushing for playing time, but will likely redshirt.