Around halftime of the 2022 MAC Championship Game on Saturday, breaking news was released by one of the top players in the conference.
Ball State sophomore running back Carson Steele announced his intention to enter the transfer portal, which is set to open Monday, Dec. 5. Steele released a statement on his Twitter account thanking God, as well as the coaches, players, and staff at Ball State. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Heading into bowl season, Steele ranks sixth in the FBS in rushing yards with 1,556 and tied for 11th in rushing touchdowns with 14. The true sophomore qualified for First Team All-MAC honors as the conference’s leader in both categories. In a phenomenal campaign, Steele eclipsed the century mark on the ground in nine of his 12 outings. It was the third-most productive season by a running back in Ball State program history, in terms of his yardage and touchdown outputs.
When the national spotlight turned to the MAC during midweeks in November, Steele was at his best. Three of Steele’s four Tuesday night performances featured at least 180 rushing yards. He set his career high in a win over Kent State on Tuesday, Nov. 1 with a 192-yard outburst before one-upping that seven days later with 198 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns against Toledo. After missing the latter part of his penultimate game due to injury, Steele triumphantly returned for the finale to post 180 yards in his last game as a Cardinal.
The 6’1”, 215 pound running back’s powerful, downhill running style and uncanny break tackle ability quickly made him a fan favorite, as well as his interesting off-the-field life. Steele’s weight room numbers — which included bench pressing 405 lbs, squatting 615 lbs, and power cleaning 305 lbs — were a frequent topic of conversation on midweek MACtion broadcasts, as well as the fact he owns a pet alligator named “Crocky-J.”
Steele first burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2021 and took over as the starting running back around midseason. The high school Indiana Mr. Football award winner watched his skill translate smoothly to the FBS level as he ran for 829 yards and six touchdowns in his first year of collegiate action. He totaled 102 yards from scrimmage in the 2021 Camellia Bowl loss to Georgia State in his only postseason game with Ball State.
Steele leaves Ball State as the 10th leading rusher in Cardinals history, despite just two years of suiting up for the team. The star running back will have two years of eligibility remaining when he selects his next destination.