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2019 Early National Signing Day Analysis: Ball State Cardinals

The Cardinals added some serious depth to their offense after Wednesday’s signing day.

James H. Jimenez

After a 5-7 (4-4 MAC) campaign in 2019, the Ball State Cardinals have reason for optimism as a solid 2020 class has the ability to help get the Cards over the hump in the West. Per 247Sports.com, ten of the 15 signees on Wednesday were three-star recruits with an even split of five offensive and defensive prospects. Without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at Ball State’s class.


Running Back

Markavun Brownlee (5’11”, 225 lbs., Elkhart, IN, Elkhart Central HS)

Donny Marcus (5’11”, 190 lbs., Brownsburg, IN, Brownsburg HS)

Ball State boosted its depth in the RB room with a couple of local prospects as Brownlee is a very decisive, powerful runner while Marcus is a shifty speedster that can hold his own in pass protection. They complement each other’s skills well but will have to work at being more well-rounded backs to earn playing time at the college level.


Wide Receivers

Latrell Fordham (6’2”, 180 lbs., Burton, MI, Davison HS)

Austin Hill (6’2”, 185 lbs., Muncie, IN, Yorktown HS)

The Cards now have some big targets to throw to with Fordham hauling in 13 touchdowns during his senior season and both receivers having a good frame to add strength to. In Fordham’s case, he has the speed to get past most corners and makes great adjustments on the ball. Meanwhile, Hill has good burst and change of direction which makes him an asset to any offense. If they can add some refinement to their route running ability, both pass-catchers will be hard to keep off the field.


Offensive Line

Ethan Crowe (6’5”, 305 lbs., Bargersville, IN, Center Grove HS)

Tommy Lorincz (6’6”, 300 lbs., Avon, OH, Avon HS)

Kevin Meeder (6’5”, 290 lbs., Portersville, PA, Seneca Valley HS)

Aaron Porter (6’5”, 315 lbs., Independence, MO, Truman HS)

Corey Stewart (6’6”, 300 lbs., Nashville, TN, East Nashville HS)

Building your team from the line of scrimmage out has some benefits, and BSU certainly made a commitment to do that with the OL recruits it signed. Crowe is what you dream of as an interior OL: a big, athletic mauler that has some nastiness to his game. He’ll be asked to do more in college (pulling/kickout blocks, pass pro, etc.) but this was a great pickup for Ball State. Lorincz is a road grater at guard and tackle, even though he’s not exceptionally quick.

Meanwhile, Meeder is a sound tackle that has good leg drive but might have to play multiple positions because I’m not sure that the coaches want him to take on the athletes at DE that we have in the MAC. To say that Porter is a powerful guard is an understatement and he moves pretty well for someone his size. Stewart rounds out the position group as an absurdly athletic tackle.


Defensive Line

Julian McBride (6’2”, 270 lbs., Cape Girardeau, MO, Chaminade College Prep)

Nathan Reichert (6’3”, 260 lbs., Lewistown, OH, Indian Lake HS)

We have some interesting prospects on the defensive side of the ball, starting with some interesting projects up front. McBride has an outstanding get-off and is athletic for a DT, but he’ll have to develop a block-shedding technique in college. On the edge of the line of scrimmage, Reichert is effective at getting off blocks and has a high motor but he will need to add some finesse moves to his game in order to beat the long OTs he’ll be taking on in college.


Linebackers

Dalton Elrod (6’3”, 230 lbs., Hartland, WI, Arrowhead HS)

Nate Pedraza (6’3”, 240 lbs., Rolling Meadows, IL, Rolling Meadows HS)

At linebacker, BSU brought in some big run stoppers to provide depth in the middle of the defense. Elrod isn’t the fastest ILB in the world, but he’ll come downhill, beat blocks, and make a bunch of tackles in the running game. Meanwhile, Pedraza has elite quickness and knows how to strike ball carriers, but it’ll be interesting to see how he’ll transtion from DE to LB.


Defensive Backs

Brayden Evans (6’1”, 200 lbs., Camby, IN, Mooresville HS)

The Cards only picked up one DB, but what a one it is. Evans was a two-way player at Mooresville as he played WR, so he has some ball skills as well as good speed and change of direction. Defensively, he can stay with receivers in man coverage, and can also shed blocks and make sure tackles in the running game. He’ll have to add weight so he can hod up over the course of the season, but Evans was a good find for BSU.


Athletes

Ryan Lezon (6’1”, 220 lbs., Indianapolis, IN, Southport HS)

Lezon is an interesting prospect as an athlete as he threw for 2,170 yards and 27 touchdowns while accounting for 663 yards and seven scores on the ground as a QB. He has good speed and instincts as a runner, while his ball placement is great, especially on deep throws. Ball State has him listed as an athlete, so I’m fascinated to see how the team plans to use him going forward.