The Ball State defense hasn't quite caught up with the Cardinal offense throughout the two-year tenure of coach Pete Lembo.
The Cardinal coaches believe the defensive recruits in the class of 2013 will go a long way to shoring up any deficiencies on that side of the ball. Here is what the coaches had to say about the new players along the defensive front:
BLAKE DUEITT (DL, 6-foot-1, 251 pounds, Cornelius, N.C.)
Blake was the defensive captain in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. He's a tough guy. Everybody I went to see in Charlotte talked about him. They used the term “ornery, tough, and mean,” and at defensive tackle that is what you want. Every time that we went to see this kid or he showed up at Ball State, he was wearing camoflague. That's usually a pretty good sign for a defensive lineman. He does a great job playing with leverage. He plays well with his hands. He can disengage and then go make a play. I think that he'll be a physical mis-match for a lot of offensive guards in our league. He's another really, really likable kid. He's excited to be at Ball State.
DANIEL GARCES (DL, 6-foot-1, 223 pounds, Matthews, N.C.)
Daniel is a kid that I've been recruiting for about four years it seems like. As a sophomore, Daniel was an elite, national-level recruit. He led the state of North Carolina in sacks. Everybody in America came to see him. Nick Saban came to see him going into his junior year. What happened was he's 6-1 (today) and he was 6-1 when he was 14 (years old). He never seemed to progress body wise. But when you watch him, he's an elite athlete. In this league (MAC), with as much spread offenses as we see, we're really fired up about him. In this league, we need guys who truly can play on the edge, to be disruptive and win one-on-one. He has great speed and excellent body control. He's very explosive in a straight line, but also very explosive in his lateral movements. Guys that can rush the passer are at a premium. Blake Dueitt's coach (Bobby Collins) called me after they played Providence and left a message: 'Y'all got Garces?' That was it. So we're pretty fired up about him.
NICHOLAS ISAACS (LB, 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, Cincinnati)
Nick was the Defensive Player of the Year in Cincinnati. He is a physical kid. Withrow High School is not an easy school to get into. It's very prison-like. He is one of the best kids there. He's captain of the football team and the wrestling team. Everybody talks about Nick. He is a rugged, big dude. He has great punch. He is what you want in a (middle) linebacker in this league. He'll play sideline to sideline. He's big. He's not going to get knocked back a whole lot. When he gets there (to the ball), he is ornery. The more guys like this we can get, we're going to be good. Everybody talks about how hard he plays and how physical he played. When you see him hit people, he doesn't go backward, they do. That's a good sign.
STEPHAN MARTIN (LB, 5-foot-11, 226 pounds, Lake Alfred, FL)
Stephan is already enrolled in classes. He is from a military family. His junior college coach said 'Stephan is a Kool-Aid drinker.' What he meant is that he is going to buy in to what you are doing. He will be 100 percent into whatever you guys are doing. He is a team guy and will buy in. We're already seeing that. He's a runner and hitter. He has a great burst. We couldn't believe that he was available. We really needed an older linebacker with our graduation losses. We're pretty fortunate that he ended up signing with us. I think he's going to be a real difference maker early on. This is a kid who is physically mature. He's older and hopefully he'll be able to compete for playing time in the fall.
DAMERRIAN PETTY (DL, 6-foot-1, 288 pounds, Shelby, N.C.)
Demarrian Petty is an interesting story. His high school coach (Matt Beam) is a great friend of mine. He is as big and as powerful of a kid as you'll see. He wasn't a great student as a freshman and a sophomore, but he's really turned it on and got three A's and a B in his first semester (this year). Coach (Joey) Lynch and I were going to see a different kid and I got a tape of Damerrian in the morning with his new SAT score and GPA and things happen for a reason. He plays very hard and is a very physical kid. He is able to sink his inside shoulder and make a hard turn, with that big body, that shows a lot of athleticism. He loves playing the game. He has a lot of enthusiasm as he plays. He just really enjoys the game. Guys that love football are going to invest a little bit more when it comes to the weight room and off-season with (strength coach) Dave Feeley. Damerrian's only request is that we start serving more grits in the dining hall.
STU STANLEY (LB, 6-foot, 220 pounds, Cathedral High School)
Stu is from Cathedral High School and they just won their third straight state championship. He was a captain of that team and in all of their games, Stu was very instrumental. Stu was our first scholarship offer in the 2013 class. He's everything that we are looking for. He's a 3.9/4.0 GPA student. He plays the game the right way. He's going to play linebacker for us and he's a runner and a hitter. He's very physical and has that swagger to him. He's going to tell you about it a little bit too. He's a great kid and his mom and dad went to Yorktown High School. Our (strong side) linebacker has to do a lot of different things. They have to be able to play in space, play in the box, cover, so we need a kid who is versatile. Every time I watched this kid this year, he was playing linebacker, safety or cornerback, he loves football. Coach Lembo talks all of the time about smart, reliable and tough: that is Stu Stanley in a nutshell. Dad (Rick) is a Ball State grad and mom (Mary Ann) is an IU grad. Obviously, dad is the smarter one. We saw him two or three weeks ago and he is every bit of 220 pounds now. I think that we stole one here.
SEAN WIGGINS (LB, 6-foot-2, 226 pounds, Mint Hill, N.C.)
Sean is a special kid. He played varsity all four years (at Butler High School), which I don't think anybody has ever done. He is big and he has great instincts. We weren't sure that we were going to take another linebacker, but his coach (Brian Hales) said 'I want to show you something.' On this team, there is an outside linebacker going to Stanford, who had over 100 scholarship offers. They have a quarterback going to the University of Tennessee. They have a receiver going to University of Georgia. They have another kid going to Michigan. They have a junior who is a national recruit. They have a bunch of great players. They had just voted for MVP and 69 (of 70 players) voted for Sean. The only one who didn't was himself. That is the type of kid that Sean is. Everywhere I went in Charlotte, everyone said 'I can't believe that you guys are getting him.' The day that he committed, three ACC schools tried to come and see Sean. He is such a loyal, tough kid; he said 'I'm going to Ball State.' We think that we are getting a pretty special one here. He is what you want in a middle linebacker. Just like (Cardinal sophomore running back) Jahwan Edwards, Sean is a two-time MVP in the state championship game. That's a pretty big deal.
ANTHONY WINBUSH (DL, 6-foot-1, 207 pounds, Warren Central High School)
Everyone's (recruiting) story is a little bit different. Anthony didn't play much as a junior, but it wasn't because he wasn't good enough. The four defensive linemen that played in front of him a year ago, two went to Cincinnati, one went to Notre Dame and Darnell Smith played for us as a true freshman. I'm thankful that he didn't play as a junior, because when you watch the tape, he's really dynamic. He's a guy that can really rush the passer. He's long He was the captain at Warren Central. They have a lot of really good players and if you are voted captain there, it says that you are doing all of the right things. He's going to cause a lot of problems for (offensive) tackles in our league. His mom (Nicole) took away his cell phone because he was about seven minutes late on his curfew with about 10 days left in the recruiting period, and we were very thankful that she did. He is very quick off of the ball and he is loose in the hips. He can make a bad situation a good situation. He has very natural pass rush ability. He's played against some of the best players in Indiana and he's made a lot of them look really, really bad. Warren Central is as close to a college football program as you can get. Anthony is going to be ready to come in and make an impact if we need him to.