Ball State Football: New faces key to OLine

No area will see the greatest turnover this year than Offensive Line. The Cardinals graduated 3 starters and another player who started several games over his career from one of the most important positions on the field. How this young group gels will be a major key to the 2009 season.

Their names have become household over the past 4 years in Muncie, IN. Dan Gerberry, Andre Ramsey and Robert Brewster. All three started most – if not all – of the games over the past 4 years for the Ball State Cardinals and as starters, they went from Mid-American Conference doormats to West Division champs and 12-0 in the regular season during the course of their career. But they, along with former OG Kyle Cornwell, have moved on because of graduation, which will leave a gapping hole for the Ball State coaching staff to figure out.

Luckily for Head Coach Stan Parrish and new OC Eddie Faulkner, there are two starters who return to their position this season – one, or both, of which could make a move to another spot.

Currently penciled in at OG are returning starter Kreg Hunter and Mike Switzer. Hunter, who is a 6-3 300 So., developed into a starter as a redshirt freshman a year ago and unseated incumbent Cornwell along the way. Hunter is a good athlete at OG and is developing every day. Some have thought that a possible move to OC was in the works for Hunter, but for now, he remains at Guard, where his experience is key.

Also back is 6-5 278 Jr. Mike Switzer. Switzer started every game last season and also played the majority of the snaps as a true freshman in 2007. Switzer too is a good athlete and moves well. Again, a position change to OT could happen, but my money would be that he remains at OG for this season as younger talent develops on the edge.

Also back at OG are redshirt Freshmen Steve Yoder and Dan Manick (a converted DT) as well as 5th year senior Chad Davis, So. Ray Kennedy and incoming freshmen Kitt O'Brien and Evan Neff.

Yoder and Manick are both converted Defensive players, Yoder, having been a DE in high school who also moonlighted at FB and actually carried the ball some. Yoder's athleticism should mean he will earn a spot on the field this season. Manick, who came to college at a DE/DT at 6-4 260, has beefed up a little and looks to contribute at OG. Davis, who is a walk on, weights in at 6-3 280 and has some game experience, having played mop up duty throughout the year this past season. Ray Kennedy is also a converted DT. He continues to get bigger and stronger and is currently listed at 6-2 270.

Incoming recruits Kitt O'Brien and Evan Neff could both make a run at the starting spot. O'Brien is a beast at 6-6 300, but as a prep OG, he is naturally suited for the position and has the skill set to be a force. Neff, who is more of a natural OC, will probably be a back up at both spots this season, but more than likely he will only see practice time as a redshirt should be warranted as he puts on weight to his 6-4 260 frame.

At C, where Gerberry shined for 4 years, the Cardinals welcome over converted DT Jerrod Gray. Gray is a little undersized at 6-3 270, but brings his Defensive mean streak to the Offensive Line. He started in the scrimmage this past Saturday, but he will have a battle on his hands to remain as the starter this fall.

Also in the mix is 6-2 278 So. Ben Jacoby. As a backup last season to Gerberry, Jacoby played in spots and did well, but concerns about his size have come into play and he is in a major battle with Gray for the starting spot. Also back is 5th year senior Jordan Applegate who has filled in very well as a scout team member and locker room fixture.

At OT, the Cardinals are looking at the possibility of starting 4th year Jr. Travis Arnold and Redshirt Freshman Cameron Lowry. Arnold has plenty of time in the Cardinals program, but playing time has been sparse. He is a load at 6-8 299, but he needs to get a lot of reps this spring and fall to be ready. Lowry, who is a very nice looking prospect on the edge, comes in after a redshirt season in which he packed on 30 lbs. The now 6-6 270 Lowry needs to continue to get bigger, but must also get the time in practice needed to be ready for game situations.

Also in the fray at OT are redshirt Fr. Austin Holtz, a big 6-5 280 OT who should contribute; a pair of walk ons in 6-5 265 Kevin Gall and 6-5 255 Devin Myers; and also Fr. Matthew Page, who comes in with a chance to play, but will need to work hard in order to do so.

The Offensive Line is key and it is also wide open as to what will happen and who will be on the field come the first snap of 2009. Having Hunter and Switzer back is a key, as is there ability to possibly move to another position to help get the best players on the field. Look for a lot of focus to be spent on putting the right people in place here which will be a big task for new OLine coach Jason Eck.

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