Written By: Aaron Hepp / @aaronhepp80
Wide Receiver | Ball State Football
Member of Ball State Sports Link
During my senior year of high school, I had no idea who Pete Lembo was.
I was a high school football player who had a few Division II offers and no real looks from any Division I schools.
My high school coach called me to the main office on the loud speaker and I walked in and saw a guy wearing a Ball State football polo and glasses.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I would get to know that guy pretty well.
Coach Lembo and his staff offered me a preferred walk-on spot with the team in 2012. They gave me a shot when really no one else did.
I had IU’s Kevin Wilson tell me I could walk on and maybe play a few snaps as a senior. I had a Miami of Ohio position coach tell me he might give me a call back. He never did. I had several other coaches from the Division 1 level tell me the exact same thing.
I will never forget Coach Lembo telling me I had a shot — and if I proved myself — I could contribute.
After a year as a walk-on, I earned Coach Lembo and the staff’s trust and played in 12 games, including the GoDaddy Bowl.
After that season, Coach Lembo called me in his office and offered me a full-ride scholarship. That is still one of the best — and most memorable — days of my life. I cannot thank Coach Lembo enough for it, and the faith he put into me as a player and as a person.
Some people on the outside looking in may not recognize all the layers of a Division I football program. The highs. The lows. The 105+ personalities on a roster. The tension — and sometimes — the turmoil.
Coach Lembo approached football with a very technique and detail-oriented approach. Sometimes this approach could go too far and that was recognized by players.
My father went to Ball State and I grew up a Ball State fan. I remember when things were really good with Nate Davis. I remember when things were not so good with Stan Parrish.
I obviously remember playing when things were really good with Keith Wenning. And of course, I understand things haven’t been good the past two seasons. That’s on all of us.
Through all the ups and downs, I understand and appreciate that Coach Lembo led us to two bowl games, beat IU multiple times, beat Virginia, South Florida, and a ranked Toledo team.
He took the program to great highs and helped produce several NFL players we can all be proud of.
Ultimately, I want to thank Coach Lembo because he gave me a shot when no one else would and the same thing is true for dozens of the other players on this team.
He believed in guys that no one else believed in. I could easily be somewhere else if that were the case.
I would have never played in 35 college football games, been exposed to the different values and character of the other players on this team, earned a scholarship — and I would not have been a Cardinal.
Thank you, Coach Lembo.
By no means am I in any position to speak on who the future head ball coach should be in this program.
Right now, as a rising fifth-year senior, I struggle to see the program from any lens other than a player.
With that being said, our special teams have been good for a long time. Just saying.