Ball State Secondary Has Something To Prove In 2020

BY MASON PLUMMER | Lead Writer | Ball State Sports Link

Potentially the best position group on the 2020 Ball State football team, the secondary has a ton of talent returning from an already impressive 2019 group.

However, it seems the entire group believes no one has seen the best of what they can do on the field yet.

Bryce Cosby

“For us, it’s all about staying hungry,” senior safety Bryce Cosby said. “For everyone that has followed this program, that wasn’t always the case. When we first stepped in here, we all came in pretty young and we had to play right away.”

When Cosby entered Ball State as a freshman in 2017, he was thrown into the fire on defense. He has come to be better because of it, even though it was tough in the moment.

“While it was hard at the time, we look back on it, and it definitely benefited us down the road,” Cosby said. “To come back for this season, it’s all about staying hungry and staying humble.”

Coming together and playing for each other is something Cosby has instilled into his teammates during his time at Ball State and has continued to do as a leader in his senior year.

“I think, as a group, we’re all on the same accord and when that’s the case, it makes things a lot easier in terms of practicing and in games,” Cosby said. “We’re all on the same page.

“I trust my life with these guys and I know we’re still hungry. As a group, we still feel like we’ve got things to prove.”

Last season, Cosby was a force to be reckoned with. In 12 games played, Cosby tallied 78 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and five passes defended. Those stats rival some of the best safeties in the nation and Cosby has put his name firmly in that top group.

Antonio Phillips

Along with Cosby, Ball State is set to return impact players all over the field on both sides of the ball, but none may be as impactful as those returning at cornerback and safety. 

Senior cornerback Antonio Phillips was recently named to the watch list for the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the award given annually to the nation’s best defensive player of the year.

Phillips was also put on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Jim Thorpe award which are given to the nation’s best defensive player regardless of position and the best cornerback in the country, respectively. 

Last season, Phillips was a breakout star for the Cardinals. He notched 43 tackles, intercepted four passes, and had three passes defended on the season en route to being selected to the All-MAC First Team in 2019.

Phillips was the first Cardinal cornerback to earn first team all-league honors in 11 years. 

With Phillips and Cosby leading the defense this season, Ball State is destined for success. They and the rest of the Cardinals will not be satisfied without winning a MAC title, though.

“I’m sure you have heard everybody on the team said, our goal is a conference championship,” Cosby said. “We firmly believe that we’re more than capable and we have everything that it takes to get there.

“With that being said, we are still taking it one game at a time. It’s only six games, you still have to take each game one at a time and let everything else take care of itself. 

Ball State is just over three weeks away from its season opener on Nov. 4 at Miami.

Ball State finished third in the MAC West Division last season at 4-4 in league play with rivalry wins over Northern Illinois and Miami. The Cardinals closed the year with a win over the RedHawks in Muncie and will now open the 2020 campaign against them.
The team returns 47 total letterwinners and 16 starters, including the likes of Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award candidate Drew Plitt and Doak Walker Award candidate Caleb Huntley on offense plus Jim Thorpe Award candidates Phillips and Amechi Uzodinma II on defense.