Quarterback Riley Neal took the next step in furthering his football career and education on Saturday evening, committing to join the Ball State Cardinals.
Neal, a 6-foot-5 200 pound pro-style quarterback won't have to travel far to get to Muncie, Indiana. The three-year starter at Yorktown (Indiana) High School threw for 2,751 yards and 35 touchdowns against just five interceptions last season. He led the Tigers to a 10-2 record and an appearance in the sectional finals.
Receiving offers from Central Michigan and Illinois State, Neal has Ball State in the blood. Both his father and his uncle played football for the Cardinals. He also received interest from Indiana, Michigan, and the Miami Hurricanes. Michigan's head coach, Brady Hoke—himself a former Ball State head coach—started his coaching career at Yorktown as an assistant, so there are ties to several programs here.
Neal marks the seventh commitment to Pete Lembo's 2015 recruiting class. The 3-star signal caller ranks as the 62nd rated pocket passer in the country according to 247Sports. Neal will join an already crowded group of quarterbacks at Ball State in 2015, as Lembo navigates a four horse race that includes Ozzie Mann, Kyle Kamman, Jack Milas, and David Morrison for the upcoming season. Conventional wisdom is that the starting spot will go to Mann or Milas, but Lembo's tenure in Muncie has been anything but conventional.
Neal joins an already impressive class that includes Lawrence Central High School running back James Gilbert. Gilbert, at 5-foot-10 190 pounds, rushed for 1,300 yards as a junior last season. Heavily recruited by MAC schools, Gilbert had committed to play for coach P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan. He has since changed his commitment to Ball State.
Newly promoted offensive coordinator Joey Lynch has played a critical role in developing Ball State's recruiting class. His contributions, and those of others in the Cardinal program, are not lost on Lembo.
"If you think about our program, and where we were three years ago, and where we're at now, it really gets down to surrounding yourself with the right people." Lembo explained in the News-Sentinel. "Putting them in a positive environment and giving them the structure and support that they need, showing that you care is real important, and then pushing them really hard to develop in all areas."