Ball State Football: Starters back at Safety

The Cardinals might have lost their top three defensive back from last season, but the return of top notch safeties Sean Baker and Alex Knipp should help easy the load for a new Cardinal secondary.

If you can look at one position on the defensive side of the ball where Ball State excelled last year, you can look no further than the back line of the defense – the safety position. Ball State returns two of the Mid-American Conference's best in Sr. FS Alex Knipp and So. SS Sean Baker.

Knipp, who was anointed to the MAC third team All-Conference in 2007, returns to the fray after leading the Cardinals in 2008 with 96 total tackles along with a sack, 6 pass breakups and 2 interceptions. Knipp is a strong defender against the run that has developed in his time at Ball State in pass coverage. Knipp is noted as a solid hitter who, despite his relatively small frame, has become one of the better head hunters in the conference.

Baker, or The Soul Reaper, as Cardinals fans love to call him, was named to the Freshman All-American Team by Sporting News and was the MAC's Freshman of the year as well. Baker (6-1 204) was second on the team with 94 total tackles. The ball hawking and opportunistic Baker also tallied 6 interceptions and returned an INT and fumble both back for touchdowns, he also broke up 10 passes. Baker is solid against the run, but has also earned himself a solid reputation as one of the top S in the MAC thanks to his pass coverage skills and ability to make plays on the ball.

Also back in action are returning backups Derrick Henry and Kyle Hoke.

Henry, a 6-1 190 Jr. SS, posted 42 tackles and a sack last season. Henry, who has made a name for himself as a special teams dynamo, should continue to improve in pass coverage and find himself on the field more this season after sharing early season duties with Baker.

Hoke, the nephew of former Head Coach Brady Hoke and former BSU defensive Back Jon Hoke, is also back. Hoke played a little last year in backing up Knipp as he posted 3 tackles and also appeared on special teams.

Also back are veterans Kyle Kuntz, Zac Jordan and Tad Kilburn who have all seen playing time as well as being a major part of the Cardinals special teams units. Rounding out the position are walk ons Blake Barajas and Reid Scheidt.

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