Written By: Adrian Jarding | @AEJarding12
Member of Ball State Sports Link
*UPDATED – SUNDAY, 11:45a: The Indianapolis Colts have announced Jonathan Newsome will be inactive for today’s game.
“Muncie, with a population over just 70,000, the town is located in the heart of Indiana and in the heart of basketball country.
A town forged in industry from ball jars to transmissions, Muncie’s community experienced a downturn in the 1970’s.
Decades later, with new leadership and new hope, Muncie is returning to it’s once proud past.”
Recognize that quote?
If you’ve seen Sports Link’s basketball documentary Out of the Shadows, then you probably remember now.
While basketball season is quickly coming and fellow Hoosiers are prepping for another exciting year, the Muncie community has a reason to be excited for gridiron action this Sunday.
This Sunday in Indianapolis, the New Orleans Saints will face-off in a Super Bowl XLIV rematch against the Indianapolis Colts. I like many others, remembers the previous two games against the Saints very vividly and am feeling a sense of revenge coming in-store for the Colts.
While the majority of Indiana will focus on getting even with Drew Brees and Sean Payton, Muncie will be focusing on an entirely different story. They will be focusing on a matchup featuring the only two Ball State players in the NFL, Jonathan Newsome and Willie Snead.
The ties between these two teams is incredible:
- They both have Manning family ties, with Archie playing for the Saints and his son Peyton playing for the Colts.
- Peyton played his father’s former team and hometown in Super Bowl XLIV.
- Drew Brees attended and played for Purdue.
- Andrew Luck and Drew Brees both went to a high school in Texas.
- Sean Payton is now considering coming to coach for Indy.
- Both teams have a Ball State player who is making significant impacts.
Another chapter will be written this Sunday when Newsome and Snead square up to face each other, but this one will focus in on how far Ball State has come.
Jonathan Newsome, or JNew as we call him at Ball State, has already established himself as a key piece to the Colts defense. In his rookie season last year he had 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. He is what you would consider a steal.
JNew was a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and has looked like a first-round pick. Diehard Colts fans like myself who keep up with the depth chart knew about JNew before the playoffs.
Others found out who he was when he strip sacked Peyton Manning in the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs. He has already been hailed as the next great pass rusher and will more than likely replace Robert Mathis as the face of the defense in the coming years.
I hadn’t heard of Willie Snead IV until I watched a clip of him catching a pass from Drew Brees in the preseason, and found out he attended Ball State. He certainly made his name known when he caught his first touchdown from Drew Brees in Week 2 against the Buccaneers.
Before he caught a touchdown in the NFL from another Hoosier, Snead was tearing up Scheumann Stadium with his ability to seemingly catch anything thrown his way.
In all seriousness, Snead was a very special player for Ball State.
In 2013 he broke Ball State’s single-season receiving record for yards, touchdowns caught and passes caught. He’s also currently second all-time for career records in those three categories.
Right now Snead is currently leading the Saints for receiving yards and is ranked 20th overall in the NFL.
Not bad for an undrafted player who was cut by two teams before making the Saints. The #NeedForSnead is real.
Since 1924, Ball State has 27 players who have dressed for a game in the NFL. During that time, 28 players have been selected in the NFL Draft.
Two players — Blaine Bishop and Tim Brown — were named All-Pro and been to the Pro Bowl.
Having one player make it to the NFL from a non Power 5 conference school is special. Having two players in the league is even more special. (Actually, with quarterback Keith Wenning on the Bengals practice roster).
Go one step further and have those two players compete on opposite sides of the ball in the NFL is truly incredible. This Sunday’s matchup isn’t the first time that Ball State has had two players compete against one another, in fact it’s not even the second time.
This Sunday’s matchup marks the fifth time in NFL history in which two players from Ball State will compete against each other on offense and defense. Call me crazy, but stats don’t lie. Here’s the five matchups.
- Ed Konopasek OL (Packers) vs. Jerome Davis DT (Detroit) October 11, 1987
- Corey Croom* RB (Patriots) vs. Blaine Bishop DB (Oilers) October 17, 1993
- Bernie Parmalee* RB (Dolphins) vs. Blaine Bishop DB (Oilers) September 7, 1997
- Bernie Parmalee RB (Dolphins) vs. Keith McKenzie LB (Packers) September 14, 1997
- Willie Snead WR (Saints) vs. Jonathan Newsome LB (Colts) October 25, 2015
*Just as a side-note, until Willie Snead’s touchdown against the Buccaneers this year, Corey Croom and Bernie Parmalee were the last players from Ball State to score a touchdown in the NFL. In 1993 Croom scored the only touchdown of his career playing for the Patriots against the Colts in Indianapolis. The Patriots won 38-0.
Wow. Ball State University has eight players who competed against each other at the highest level in professional football. To a school like Alabama or USC that means nothing because they have players every year who end up on different teams and compete. To a “smaller” school like Ball State, that’s quite an accomplishment.
It’s also not just that they made the practice squad or dressed for the game, they all actually played against each other and had at least one stat. To play in the NFL is a privilege. It’s not easy. If it was everyone could do it.
On Sunday at 1 p.m, when the Saints offense lines up to face the Indy defense, you can guarantee Muncie will roar with excitement. It’s not often that your town has players competing in the National Football League.
It will be a celebration of just how far Ball State and Muncie have come. Forget the rugged past and look to the bright future. Ball State is on the up and up and this Sunday is a shining example of what the future holds.
From everyone at Sports Link, Ball State and the Muncie community, we want to wish Willie and JNew the best of luck this Sunday. The script couldn’t be written any better, especially considering they’re playing in Indiana.
GO CARDINALS! #ChirpChirp