NEPD Staff Writer: Matthew Jones
The 9-3 Ball State Cardinals and the 9-4 Central Florida Knights match up tonight in what should be a relatively high-scoring affair; Ball State is currently ranked 30th in the NCAA with 35.0 points per game, while Central Florida ranks 27th with 35.2.
Although both teams are fairly light on top prospects, there are still a few draft-eligible players worth keeping an eye on. Read on for profiles of some of the game’s top options.
OT Austin Holtz, Ball St. (6’5″, 305)
Holtz injured his knee in 2011 but recovered to start all twelve games this season for the Cardinals; he was named to the All-Mid-American Conference first team this season as a result. Holtz is unlikely to be drafted but has an intriguing combination of size and experience which may earn him some looks as an undrafted free agent.
OB Jonathan Newsome, Ball St. (6’2″, 235)
Newsome was suspended for two games this season after being arrested for possession of marijuana; Newsome also had an outstanding warrant resulting from a previous shoplifting incident. He spent two previous seasons (2009 and 2010) at Ohio State before transferring.This season, he was named to the All-Mid-American Conference second team after recording 51 tackles, twelve tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks.
CB Jason Pinkston, Ball St. (6’0″, 185)
Pinkston has played extensively during all four seasons with the Cardinals, starting in over 30 games during that span. He was named to the All-Mid-American Third Team in 2010, when he recorded 61 tackles and four interceptions. Pinkston must impress in pre-draft workouts to earn late-round consideration; otherwise, he could draw interest as an undrafted free agent and as a potential free safety conversion candidate.
RB Latavius Murray, Central Florida (6’3″, 225)
Murray is a massive running back whose production spiked in his first season as a featured back; he rushed for 1035 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season despite missing three games with a shoulder injury. Murray likely won’t be drafted, but his size may interest teams as a situational runner or potentially as a fullback conversion candidate.
WR Quincy McDuffie, Central Florida (5’9″, 180)
McDuffie is an all-purpose player who has scored three touchdowns as a rusher, three as a receiver, and three as a kick returner. His best shot in the NFL may come as a return specialist, where his 34.2 yards per return and three scores are intriguing. He also scored on three kickoff returns prior to this season. He must impress in pre-draft workouts to earn an opportunity in the NFL.
OG Theo Goins, Central Florida (6’3″, 320)
Goins was a member of the Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List this season; he has played both guard spots extensively during his time with the Golden Knights. However, Goins has not started every game of his undergraduate career and is most likely a priority free agent whose primary value is to man/inline blocking schemes.
OB Ray Shipman, Central Florida (6’4″, 240)
Shipman previously attended the University of Florida as a reserve basketball player; 2011 was his first season as a football player. He recorded 35 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and one interception over nine games that year, and improved in 2012, recording 91 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. His size and athleticism may interest teams late. Additionally, Shipman was named to the C-USA All-Academic Team.
CB A.J. Bouye, Central Florida (6’0″, 185)
Bouye tore his ACL towards the end of the 2011 season, missing the final five games. However, he recovered in 2012, being named to the All-C-USA Second Team after recording 51 tackles and three interceptions (scouring once.) He also blocked a kick this season at the end of regulation, which may increase his chances of earning a tryout as an undrafted free agent.
FS Kemal Ishmael, Central Florida (5’11”, 210)
Ishmael was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year this season; he also earned a spot on the All-C-USA First Team. He has started 48 games at Central Florida, with 208 career tackles. This season was his best: he made 63 tackles, sacked the quarterback once, recorded two forced fumbles, recovered three fumbles, and intercepted three passes. He may receive interest late.