Now that Ball State's star quarterback, Keith Wenning, has been drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, there has been a huge opening at that position. Fortunately, there are four Cardinal quarterbacks that are ready to take a step into Wenning's shoes. It's just a matter of who will achieve that starting role when the season rolls in.
Height: 6 foot 1
Weight: 205 pounds
In many people's eyes, the quarterback most likely to step into this role will be Ozzie Mann. Mann has had more experience playing at the college level than any of the other three quarterbacks. This being said, the sample size isn't really anything to get too excited about. He is 2 for 9 passing, for 29 yards and 1 interception.
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He has a 22 percent completion percentage and the competition he faced last year was not anything too spectacular: Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Western Michigan, and Army. It's hard to feel totally comfortable having Mann as your starting quarterback going up against teams such as Iowa in the upcoming year, when he didn't have much success going up against lower ranked teams the year before in mostly cleanup duty.
In the Spring Game, Mann was able to throw 7 for 12 for 43 yards. They're not jaw-dropping numbers, but I would take it over 2 for 9 any day. Unfortunately, he still managed to throw an interception on his very first pass. His mobility seemed very limited, as he didn't really do anything on the ground. Wenning never really produced much of a threat on the ground either, but it's important for a quarterback to have that weapon in his arsenal. It just seems that Mann doesn't have any weapons that would make a Ball State football fan that excited about him in the starting position. That being said, he still seems like the most practical option for quarterback in the upcoming season, just based off his past experience.
Height: 6 foot
Weight: 185 pounds
The other non-freshman quarterback in this battle is junior Kyle Kamman. Last year, Kamman only saw the field when he was a holder for the kicker on special teams. Realistically, that's probably all Kamman is going to do in the upcoming year as well. I don't see any way that Kamman will pass up Mann in this battle. Kamman just doesn't have the experience that Mann has, and he doesn't have the potential that the other two freshman quarterbacks have.
He saw the field as a quarterback in 2012 against Miami, but he didn't do much with that opportunity. He was 0 for 1 passing, and he rushed 3 times for -7 yards. Kamman at least had a positive rushing attempt against the RedHawks with 2 yards. But that's not much of a ground threat.
He saw the field during the Spring game, and he went 2 for 8 for 9 yards. The only way I thought Kamman would have gotten a legitimate shot at the starting quarterback position is if he had an incredible Spring game, but that didn't happen in the slightest. It's almost safe to eliminate Kamman from this quarterback battle, but hey, you never know what Pete Lembo has up his sleeve.
Year: Redshirt Freshman
Height: 6 foot
Weight: 215 pounds
The quarterback that I'm most excited about in the upcoming year will have to be freshman Jack Milas. The downside about having a freshman in the starting position is that they don't have that valuable experience at the college level. It would be nerve-wracking to start a quarterback that we have no idea what they can do at the college level, during a season that could potentially be one of Ball State's best ever. But with great risk can come great reward, and Milas definitely has a very high ceiling.
Just based off his Spring game, he has a natural quarterback mentality for creating big plays. Milas had the most exciting offensive play during the Spring game, throwing a 71 yard pass. He was 10 for 26 for 144 yards. It was nice to see this freshman get the opportunity to throw a lot of passes against a collegiate defense to showcase his talents. Yes, the bulk of the yardage came off that one 71 yard pass, and yes, 10 for 26 isn't very good, but these are all fixable issues.
The thing that separates Milas from Kamman and Mann is that since he's a freshman, he has time to develop his skills and get adjusted to how Ball State runs their offense. It's clear that he has some control issues, but you have to wonder how much of that was due to miscommunication and unsurety of routes. Even with the control issues, Milas has a great arm. It's easier to fix miscommunication and accuracy than it is to to strengthen an arm.
He's a little bit shorter than Mann, but he also is a little bit heavier. This can be a good thing for durability issues, as long as the weight doesn't hurt his mobility and evasiveness. This may be premature, but Milas could end up being the next great quarterback at Ball State. I wouldn't mind seeing Milas getting the starting spot, or at least splitting some time with another quarterback to gain experience. The way I see it, Milas has a ton of talent, and if given opportunities on the field, he could do a lot with it.
Height: 6 foot 1
Weight: 184 pounds
The last quarterback in this battle is freshman David Morrison. Morrison didn't get nearly the amount of playing time as Milas in the Spring game to shine. Morrison was 3 for 6 passing for 38 yards. A 50 percent completion rate isn't great, but it was better than every other quarterback besides Mann who had a 58 percent completion rate, plus an interception.
One thing that I love about Morrison, after watching some of his high school highlight tapes, is his ability to run the ball. Having a dual-threat quarterback is valuable. The downside to this is that he has a very slender frame. This makes me a little weary of him scrambling the ball and taking some big, collegiate hits. If he is able to pack on 10 more pounds or so, I think it will help any future injuries that are due to taking big hits. Morrison is in a similar boat as Milas, he is a very young quarterback who potentially could pan out to be very good. It's just tough to actually rate Morrison at this time because of the limited time he was given during the Spring game.
This is a cloudy issue that Ball State needs to clear up very soon. It's hard to replace a quarterback who was as successful as Wenning, but the only way the Cardinals are going to get another quarterback as successful as Wenning in the long term is to give the young quarterbacks experience early on.
Mann and Kamman both seem to have limited potential, and their time is running out at Ball State to develop into a great quarterback. While Mann seems like the most practical option to win the starting position, the Cardinals really should start one of the freshman, in my opinion.
Morrison was not given a lot of opportunity to perform during the Spring game, which leads me to believe that Lembo isn't leaning toward him for the starting spot. He did give Milas plenty of opportunity to perform, however. Milas did better than Mann during that game, and while the Spring game doesn't mean everything, it does give a good indication of where the quarterbacks are at. Milas is very young, so he has plenty of time to develop into a great quarterback. The only way he will be able to do this is if he is given the opportunity to gain collegiate experience early on in his career.
Who knows? We may even have another Wenning among us.