Ball State second-year head football coach Pete Lembo announced the team's award winners for the 2012 season at the annual Football Honors Banquet at the Horizon Convention Center in downtown Muncie, Ind.
The Cardinals completed the 2012 season with a 9-4 overall record and a 6-2 Mid-American Conference mark plus competed in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg. The nine wins tied for the third most in Ball State history, while the six MAC wins marked the second most for the Cardinals since the 1996 campaign.
The John Magnabosco Award, which goes to the team's Most Valuable Player, was presented on offense to Keith Wenning and on defense to Travis Freeman. The Magnabosco Award is named in honor of Ball State's head football coach from 1935-52. Magnabosco is the winningest football coach in Ball State history with 68 victories.
Wenning completed 301-of-460 passes for 3,095 yards with 24 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. He completed 65.4 percent of his passes in 12 games, while averaging 257.9 yards per contest. Wenning's 3,095 passing yards ranks as the third best in Ball State history, while his 2,786 in 2011 is the fourth best in school history. His 301 completed passes set the school standard, breaking his previous mark of 287 in 2011, while the 460 pass attempts is the second best single season mark in Ball State history. Wenning started 12 games for the Cardinals, missing only one game with an injury. He has started 34 games in his career. Wenning threw for a career high 445 yards with five touchdowns at Kent State in 2012. The passing yards tied for the second highest single-game total in Ball State history, while the five TDs tied the Ball State school record. He set school records with 71 pass attempts (third most in MAC history) and 42 completions vs. Northern Illinois, while throwing for 434 yards vs. the Huskies. Wenning was named to the All-MAC Second Team.
Freeman led Ball State's defense with 129 total tackles, while adding 2.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and two quarterback hurries. Freeman completed his collegiate career as the NCAA leader among current players for total tackles in a career with 465. He averaged 9.5 tackles per game in his career. Freeman started all 13 games in 2012 and 46-of-49 in his four seasons. Freeman led the Cardinals in tackles in seven games in 2012, and tied for team high honors in two more games. He ranked 22nd in the nation in tackles per game with 9.92 a contest. Freeman was a 2011 and 2012 selection to the All-MAC Second Team.
KeVonn Mabon, a true freshman wide receiver, was named the recipient of the John Hodge Award as Ball State's Most Valuable Freshman. The Hodge Award is given in memory of the 1974 Cardinal Varsity Club Chairman who died in 1977. The CVC is an organization of benefactors to Ball State's intercollegiate athletics program.
Mabon registered 23 catches for 335 yards with two touchdowns in his 12 games. He averaged a team high 14.6 yards per catch plus managed 27.9 receiving yards per game. Mabon caught a career high four catches for 45 yards at Toledo, and had a career long 44-yard catch vs. Northern Illinois. He had two catches for a career best 60 receiving yards vs. Northern Illinois. Mabon's TD catch in the back of the endzone at Army was featured as one of ESPN's Top 10 Plays of the Day.
Steven Schott and Jamill Smith were named co-recipients of the Bill Reynolds Special Teams Award. The award is named in memory of Reynolds, who spent 31 years as a volunteer in the Ball State athletics department with an emphasis on the football program prior to his death in the summer of 2000.
Schott, a 2012 All-MAC First-Team choice, made 25-of-32 field goals and 50-of-51 extra points as a senior. His 25 field goals made tied for the second best mark in the NCAA in 2012, and tied for the Ball State single-season record. Schott kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give Ball State a 41-39 victory at Indiana - the second game winning kick of his career in the final minute of play. His 50 extra points made is the second best single-season mark in Ball State history. Schott completed his career with 41 field goals made, the fifth best mark in Ball State's record books, and 93 extra points made, which ties for the fourth best in a Ball State career. Schott was a 2012 All-MAC First-Team selection and was one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation's top collegiate placekicker.
Smith started 12 games and was Ball State's top punt and kick return specialist in addition to ranking second on the team with 69 receptions, 706 receiving yards and six touchdown catches. He tallied 11 punt returns for 152 yards and a 13.8 average plus managed 33 kick returns for 844 yards and a 25.6 average. Smith ranked 26th in the country in kickoff returns plus tied for 29th in the nation with 135.15 all-purpose yards per contest. Smith was named to the All-MAC First Team as a wide receiver and the All-MAC Third Team as a punt and kick return specialist. This marks the second straight season Smith has been a co-recipient of the Bill Reynolds Special Teams Award.
Scott Kovanda, a senior punter with a 3.884 grade-point average on Ball State's 4.0 scale as a finance major, was named the recipient of the Gene Booker Academic Award. The Academic Award has been given annually since 1978 and was named in honor of Gene Booker for the first time in 2011. Booker was a member of Ball State's 1949 football team, which is the only unbeaten and untied team in the school's 87 years of football.
Kovanda, one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award which goes to the nation's most outstanding collegiate punter, tallied 47 punts for 1,892 yards and a 40.3 average in 2012. He helped Ball State rank third in the nation in punt return yardage defense, allowing only six returns on the season for an average of 1.0 yards. Kovanda forced opponents to start inside their own 20-yard line 27 times, and had six punts of 50 or more yards. In his career, he punted 229 times for 9.381 yards and a 41.0 average. He completes his Ball State career ranked fourth all-time in punt yards and punts and third in punt average.
Cameron Lowry, a senior offensive lineman, received the Mark Hays Inspiration Award, which is given to the person who demonstrates the greatest ability to motivate and inspire his teammates. The award is given in the memory of the late son of Kermit and Mary Ellen Hays, who are longtime fans and supporters of Ball State's athletics program.
Austin Holtz was awarded the Paul Schudel Strength and Conditioning Award, which is given to honor Ball State's football coach from 1985-94 who led the Cardinals to the 1989 and 1993 MAC Championships. He guided Ball State to its first ever NCAA Division IA bowl games with appearances in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl and the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl. Schudel completed his career with 60 wins, which was second in Ball State history, and ranked fifth in the Mid-American Conference with 47 victories.
Holtz and Lowry anchored an offensive line that blocked for Wenning's record setting season plus paved the way for Jahwan Edwards to rush for 1,410 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012. Lowry earned All-MAC Third Team honors after starting 11 games in 2012 and 31 in his career. Holtz was an All-MAC First-Team selection after starting all 13 games in 2012 and 33 in his career.
The Bill Meitzler Scout Team Players of the Year were Jeremiah Harvey and Brandon Kish. This award is given in honor of the former Cardinal Varsity Club Board member and longtime fan and supporter of Ball State football. Harvey was a freshman defensive tackle for the Cardinals in 2012, while Kish was a junior safety for the Cardinals.
Armand Dehaney and Kelly Page were named co-recipients of the Dave McClain Leadership Award. The McClain Award is given in memory of the deceased Dave McClain, who was Ball State's head football coach from 1971-77 and guided the Cardinals to a 46-25-3 overall record. He guided the Cardinals into the Mid-American Conference and NCAA Division I football. McClain led Ball State to the 1976 MAC Championship in only the Cardinals second season in the conference. McClain's final three Ball State teams posted a combined 26-7 overall mark and a 13-4 MAC mark.
Dehaney started four games and played the first five in 2012 before missing the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. He started six games in 2011 and tallied a career high 13 tackles at Northern Illinois. Dehaney played in all 24 games in his first two seasons. Page, who started nine games in his career, saw his first snaps from scrimmage in 2012 after coming in for relief for an injured Wenning. He completed 5-of-7 passes with two touchdowns and rushed for one TD to help the Cardinals to a 52-27 win over Ohio. He started the following week at Miami University and completed 11-of-21 passes for 137 yards in the victory.
Fourteen senior members of the team were awarded Ray Louthen Senior Participation Awards, in honor of Ball State's head football coach from 1962-67 and the school's athletics director from 1970-81.
Justin Cruz, Andre Dawson, Dwayne Donigan, Harold Hogue, Donovan Jarrett, Dan Manick, Tony Martin, Brooks Medaris, Aaron Mershman, Brandon Newman, Kitt O'Brien, Jason Pinkston, Jared Scaringe and Chris Sparrow received the Louthen Awards.
Ball State will open the 2013 football season Thurs., Aug. 29, in Scheumann Stadium vs. Illinois State. The Cardinals will remain home for their second game of the season, a Sat., Sept. 7, home game vs. Army.