BY GUNNER DANIEL | Ball State Football | Ball State Sports Link
It’s not glorious. It’s not what they told you about during your recruitment. It wasn’t brought up on National Signing Day.
There is no reward of gameday at the end of the week. Every day is game day. The life of a redshirt is a long, yet important road most college football players go through. Take a walk in the shoes of college football’s forgotten players — the redshirts.
Practice days start the same for everyone on the Ball State football team. We have a breakfast check window from 6-6:30 a.m. in the morning to make sure we’re up, and starting the day with some nutrition.
From there we move to Scheumann Stadium where we split up. US redshirts have a pre-practice lift at 7:15 a.m. while the travel squad is in their meeting rooms. Our lifts are much different compared to the travel squad lifts during the season.
Our Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Armer comes in every morning ready to kick our butts with a workout. It’s grueling, but every single day you can see yourself getting better, stronger and molding yourself into a Division I college football player.
Although the lifts take a lot out of you, there is little time to dwell on it. We go right from the lift to suiting up in our practice gear and hitting the field for practice.
As a redshirt our biggest job is to run the offense/defense/special teams units of our upcoming opponent. This is sometimes the fun part as we get to learn new systems every week and try something out we wouldn’t normally do. It’s essential to the team’s success on gameday that we give a great look, and mirror how our opponent will play.
After practice, we do our best to blend in with everyone else at Ball State. We get class checked just like all the other players to make sure we’re on time. We have study tables to make sure we’re getting all our work done throughout the week. It’s essential we stay on top of our grades so we can stay eligible for the football team.
Gamedays are the most unique of the week and in the Mid-American Conference, those days could be a Tuesday or a Thursday.
A lot of times groups of guys will get together, get some food and watch the game. That’s usually the Saturday game plan for me. I usually hang out with fellow redshirts Brock Burns and Jimmy Daw to watch the games. We’ll grab some wings or a pizza, and have a “bros night” watching football on TV or heading over to the Scheu if it’s a home game.
It’s a lot different watching our games than watching any other team play. We’ll get caught up calling out our plays or our favorite saying — “We ran that a lot in practice this week.”
Watching games can also be very cool when our teammates make big plays. It’s no longer just another guy making a play, but we saw all the hard work and sweat that went into it behind the scenes.
We start off our Sundays (or the day after a game) with another lifting session. After the lift, we get in the mix with the rest of the team, watching the film from the previous day’s game.
Even though we didn’t play in the game, it’s important to still learn from your teammates. When they have a great play, you learn from it and try to do the same when it’s your turn in practice.
If they happen to mess up, everyone in the room learns from it to make sure it happens less often. We finish our Sunday’s with a full team meeting with Coach Neu, where he touches on the game from the day before and will lay out the schedule for the upcoming week.
As you can see, there aren’t a whole lot of autograph sessions or photo shoots for the redshirts. We do our jobs and that’s about it. Every redshirt has the dream of one day being the guy in front of the cameras making big plays, but it all has to start somewhere.