Q: Ball State returns a number of key student-athletes at the wide receiver position. Talk a little about the veterans returning and the young receivers progress this spring.
Coach Lembo (@Pete_Lembo): Yes, we are excited about the receiving corps heading into the 2013 season. Willie Snead, Jamill Smith and Connor Ryan are all coming off productive seasons in 2012, while KeVonn Mabon, Chris Shillings and Jordan Williams all saw action in critical situations. Willie, Jamill and Connor are among the best leaders on the team. They are tireless workers and passionate competitors. It is nice to see receivers with those kinds of intangible qualities. Younger receivers like KeVonn, Chris and Jordan have really benefitted from the example those veterans set every day. That mindset is slowly trickling down to some other young players in the program like Stewart Turner. Our wide receivers are a critical part of our depth on special teams. We are counting on several of these guys to be key role players for us on those units. I like the attention to detail I am seeing from our wide outs in the kicking game as well as on offense. A lot of credit goes to Keith Gaither, who has been a great mentor for these players on and off the field. Keith cares about them, but he is also demanding. His practice periods are highly organized and he is a great communicator. We are very fortunate to have him on our coaching staff here at Ball State.
Q: While recruiting has become a 24/7 process over the years, talk a little bit about how social media has become a part of the recruiting of student-athletes at Ball State.
Coach Lembo (@Pete_Lembo): Various methods of social media have become the most efficient way to communicate with recruits and to educate them about your program. The NCAA is very restrictive at the moment with telephone calls. We are limited based on the time of year and a recruit’s year in high school. However, we can communicate legally via Facebook and Twitter. Most of our coaches are using one of these means or in some cases both. In addition to recruits, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages give us an opportunity to engage other constituents such as alumni, season ticket holders, parents and high school coaches. We have a vision and a plan for our program and these methods of communication – along with our web site – give us an opportunity to sell our brand. We cannot control what the media says, but we can control our message.
Q: There have been a number of rule changes talked about on the professional football level. What, if any, are the key rule changes that fans will notice in the 2013 college football season?
Coach Lembo (@Pete_Lembo): The most notable change in 2013 will come in the area of “targeted hits” to the head or to defenseless players. Last year, this resulted in a 15-yard penalty. Moving forward, it could result in the ejection of the student-athlete for the remainder of the game or the first half of the following game in addition to the 15-yard penalty. I understand the need to make the game safer and to protect players. At the same time, there will inevitably be some instances where it is very difficult on the officiating crews to make these calls. Hopefully, instant replay will help officials decide whether or not an ejection is warranted. The NCAA is also tweaking the low blocking rule for the third year in a row. Cut blocks will be allowed in the tackle box by any player aligned there at the snap, but not on the perimeter. Again, this change is being implemented to promote player safety.