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Former Ball State Cardinal RB Carson Steele announces transfer to UCLA

The Bruins pick up their bruising back of the future in the Indiana native, who was one of the country’s most efficient runners in 2022.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 17 Central Michigan at Ball State Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Carson Steele, one of the most productive running backs in the country in 2022, has announced his new home after entering the transfer portal earlier this offseason, committing to the UCLA Bruins of the PAC-12 Conference via Twitter on Wednesday morning.

The Greenwood, Indiana native, who was the state’s high school Mr. Football in 2020, excelled in two full seasons at Ball State, with 2,447 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground over 481 carries.

His six-foot-one, 215 lb. frame makes Steele an attractive option for a power back in a Power Five offense, as his size and speed made him a hard matchup in the MAC. Steele was one of the country’s most efficient runners last season due to his sheer strength, picking up an average of around 3.4 yards after contact despite running behind an offensive line which allowed an average of around 1.4 yards before contract, per numbers from Sports Info Spectrum.

Steele is the second MAC transfer target to commit to the Bruins this offseason, with former Kent State QB Collin Schlee making his commitment to the program earlier last month.

Steele first became a known quantity in MAC circles in 2021, initially taking backup reps at the start of the season (and scoring three touchdowns in the first three games) before earning the starting role partway through the conference season, eclipsing the 100-yard three times in MAC play and eventually earning all-MAC freshman honors.

2022 was when Steele became a known quantity across the country, as the blonde-haired back plowed his way forward for 1.556 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground while also serving as an outlet in the pass game with 29 receptions for 166 yards and a score.

Steele eclipsed the 100-yard mark nine times in 2022, with three-score performances vs. NIU, UConn and Toledo highlighting the stat sheet. The contest against Toledo, held on a weeknight with the division title on the line, was his career-best performance, as Steele racked up 198 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries to try and aid BSU’s chances.

His efforts were enough to earn first-team all-MAC honors in 2022, leading the MAC in rushing yards and carries, while placing second-best in touchdowns to EMU’s Samson Evans (15.) Steele’s 1,556 yards placed him eighth in the NCAA in total rushing.

Steele slots to be in a battle for the starting running back position at UCLA, as current starter Zach Charbonnet is expected to forgo his final year of eligibility to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Currently a true junior, Steele has two years of eligibility remaining.