Pete Lembo's high octane Ball State offense of a season ago witnessed unprecedented success and saw Cardinals records fall on a nearly weekly basis. With talent at all positions, several Cardinals caught the attention of a national audience, en route to a 10-2 regular season record and a berth in the GoDaddy Bowl. Rarely has the MAC seen such prolific performances at the skill positions. Ball State's three headed monster scorched opposing defenses all season long, and ranked as the No. 19 offense in all of college football last season. Consider:
Quarterback Keith Wenning picked apart MAC defensive units with precision like skill. The senior topped 10,000 career yards passing in 2013, and established new Ball State marks in career passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, and passing touchdowns. Wenning finished his illustrious Ball State career as the MAC's third all time leading passer, behind Byron Leftwich of Marshall and Ben Roethlisberger, with 4,148 passing yards.
Wenning's favorite target was Ball State receiver Willie Snead. The deep threat from Belle Glade, Fla. capped his Cardinals career in impressive fashion. Snead caught better than 100 yards in nine games this past season. Snead's 1.516 receiving yards in 2013 is the new Ball State single season mark. Snead is one of just two players in BSU history to have two 1,000 receiving yard seasons. His 26 touchdown receptions are third in Ball State history and he was named to the 2013 All-MAC First Team.
The Cardinals did it on the ground as well. The Ball State rushing attack was driven by junior Jahwan Edwards. Edwards was voted to the All-MAC second team in a season where he established a new Ball State career rushing touchdowns record with 38. His 11 career games with better than 100 yards is tied for fourth at Ball State all-time. Horactio Banks also emerged as an explosive second option in the Ball State backfield, rushing for 595 yards and seven touchdowns, before tearing his ACL prior to the Northern Illinois game and missing the remainder of the season.
Rarely is an offense able to excel to such extents without leadership and all-conference talent on the offensive line. Enter: Jordan Hansel.
Back in July, Hansel ranked at number 30 in our list of the top football players for the upcoming 2013 season. The 6'4" 326 pound senior from Covington, Kentucky did not disappoint. Hansel anchored an offensive line that yielded a scant 1.23 sacks per game, good for 17th in all of Division I.
Hansel helped create record-breaking seasons for the Ball State Cardinals, both as a team and individually. He was selected to the All-MAC First Team following his senior season, adding to Second Team accolades in 2011, and a Third Team Selection in 2012. In whole, Hansel started 39 games in his Ball State career.
Depending on which draft prospectus you prefer, many prognosticators rank Hansel as the 50th to 55th top prospect among offensive lineman. Among guards his name pops up in the top 20. Obviously he's among the more intelligent of prospects, if not because he attended an institution the caliber of Ball State, then because he earned a 3.46 GPA while there.
When the NFL Draft rolls around in May, the leader of the Ball State offensive line could look different than the prospective professional. Consider this tweet on February 4th:
Weight loss system, engaged. Goodbye 300lb club.— Jordan Hansel (@chirpHANSEL) February 5, 2014
I'm a Miami Dolphins fan, so I think they should burn every single one of their draft picks on offensive lineman. Every. Single. One.
Here's hoping we hear Hansel's named called May 8th. Ok, ok, ok. May 10th. Chirp, Chirp!