BALL STATE: Four Days and Counting

In the second part of our day-by-day preview of the Ball State Cardinal football team, looks at four names to know off Coach Brady Hoke's roster. It includes a 31-year-old defensive end who has finally gotten a chance to play college football...

Brandon Crawford, DE – The 6-3, 248-pound sophomore is one of the most interesting stories in Division I football. Crawford graduated from Ft. Wayne Southside H.S. in 1996 with hopes of a college scholarship. But after a run-in with the law (he was a passenger in a stolen car) ended his hopes of playing in college in the fall of 1997, he instead went to work, spending three years working on the assembly line in an automotive factory. From there he joined the Marines in 1999, and eventually earned an honorable discharge from the Corps in 2003. His next step was to enroll at Ball State in the summer of 2004, but he wound up returning home the following fall. He then gave college another shot in the fall of 2006, and has been with the Cardinal program ever since. Now 31 years old, Crawford is more than a novelty. He leads the team in tackles for loss (12), sacks (5) and forced fumbles (3). He had one of his best games two weeks ago against Western Michigan, totaling 10 tackles to go along with two sacks to earn MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Nate Davis, QB – A one-time IU recruiting target, the 6-2, 214-pound sophomore from Bellaire, Ohio, has blossomed in his second season in Muncie. Davis ranks second in the Mid-America Conference in total offense (295.8) and first in passing yardage (272.6) and he's accounted for 23 touchdowns (21 passing, two rushing). Davis was a part-time player last season as a true freshman, sharing the quarterbacking duties with IU Coach Bill Lynch's son, Joey. Now, Davis is the face of Coach Brady Hoke's program and has guided them to a 5-4 record and within one win of bowl eligibility. Davis has a big arm and can also tuck it and run on occasion, although he's not the same sort of elusive signal caller as IU's Kellen Lewis.

Frank Edmonds, RBIndiana has had its issues with some big-name tailback such as Rashard Mendenall, Javon Ringer and P.J. Hill in recent weeks, but will they also have problems with a virtual no-name like Edmonds? Edmonds took over the team's tailback duties when starter MiQuale Lewis was lost for the season with a torn ACL late in the one-point loss to Nebraska. At the time, Lewis was the second-leading rusher in the MAC, averaging 111.8 yards/game in the season's first four weeks. Now, the Cardinals are leaning on Edmonds, a 5'8", 191-pound true freshman from Cleveland. He's played in all nine games, starting three times, and has run for a team-best 451 yards on 113 carries. He had a 126-yard effort against Buffalo, but has averaged only 48.3 yards/game in the last four outings.

B.J. Hill, CB – a year ago, Hill was a non-factor in IU's 24-23 win in Mucie, rushing for eight yards on three carries. But IU can count on the 5-7, 180-pounder having a bigger impact this time around. In the off-season the Cardinal coaching staff moved Hill to cornerback and he's been one of the team's most pleasant surprises. He's intercepted five passes, a total that ranks fourth nationally. He also ranks fourth on the team in both tackles (52) and tackles for loss (4) while adding a blocked kick as well. Teams have looked to throw in his direction due to his diminutive size, but he's been key to a Cardinal defense that ranks ninth nationally with 14 interceptions. Hill is also a threat on special teams. He's averaging 10.1 yards/return as the team's primary punt returner this season.

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction Top Stories