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The football coaching staff at Ball State has bemoaned its lack of experienced players since Pete Lembo took over in Muncie in December of 2010. This spring Lembo and his coaching staff took steps toward rectifying that issue by searching for players that had graduated from four-year institutions, but still had a season of football eligibility.
On Wednesday, Lembo announced that the Cardinals would add a pair of veteran defensive players that should be able to contribute immediately this fall.
Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Brandon Newman and Central Florida safety Jarrett Swaby signed grant-in-aid papers.
“We are very pleased to welcome Brandon and Jarrett to the Ball State community and the football program,” Lembo said in a release. “Both of these young men were strong students, good citizens and contributors on the field at their previous institutions.”
Newman is a 6-foot, 303-pound lineman that was a heralded high school recruit, but that success never translated to the field in South Bend.
He played four seasons at Notre Dame after graduating from Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, where he was one of 11 players from Kentucky named to the 2007 All-Southern Team by the Orlando Sentinel. He was chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio following his senior season.
At Pleasure Ridge Park, Newman was an all-state selection as a senior after earning second team honors as a junior. He was ranked as the second best player in Kentucky by Rivals.com and the 22nd best defensive tackle in the nation while at Pleasure Ridge Park.
Newman totaled 126 tackles in his high school career, including 31.5 tackles for loss. A four-year letter winner in football and track in high school, Newman was a three-time captain of the football team. However, in his four years with the Fighting Irish, he appeared in just two games.
Newman will battle senior Donovan Jarrett, junior Harold Hogue and freshman Keenan Noel for time at the nose tackle spot. Jarrett played in 11 games as a junior.
Swaby is a 6-foot-1, 191-pounder that appeared in 11 games for Central Florida last season and registered a dozen tackles.
He redshirted for the Knights in 2009 and did not see action in 2010. However, despite that lack of game time, Swaby is a seasoned player compared to what Lembo has returning.
Of the six players competing for time at the two safety spots, only two are juniors, while the remainder of the group is comprised of three sophomores and a true freshman.
Sophomore Brian Jones played in all 12 games and made 33 tackles, while junior Joseph Fazio and sophomore Christopher Calloway saw action in 11 and 9 games, respectively.
Sophomore J.C. Wade and junior Brandon Kish saw limited action, while Lembo had high praise for true freshman Chris Pauling through spring drills.
At Glades Day School in Florida, Swaby recorded 77 tackles, nine pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a high school senior. He also added 133 yards rushing, 79 yards receiving and three touchdowns while playing running back on offense.
Swaby helped Glades Day to the 2006 Florida Class A State Championship and earned all-area and all-state honors that season. He also competed in track in high school and qualified for the state meet in the 400-meters as a senior.
“We hope they can both achieve their athletic goals at Ball State, while pursuing a master's degree in their chosen fields of study,” Lembo said. “With the arrival of these two veteran players, we anticipate seeing some additional competition for playing time on the defensive side of the ball during preseason camp.”