“We take great pride in developing our players on and off the field,” Ball State fourth-year head coach Pete Lembo said. “Jonathan and Keith are examples of student-athletes that bought in, worked hard and ultimately, benefitted greatly from their time in our football program. We are grateful for their contributions and look forward to following them as football alumni.”
Newsome, a defensive end for the Cardinals, was selected with the 26th pick of the fifth round by the Indianapolis Colts. Wenning, a quarterback at Ball State, was chosen by the Baltimore Ravens with the 18th pick of the sixth round.
These two student-athletes mark the first Cardinals selected in the NFL Draft since Nate Davis and Robert Brewster were selected in the 2009 Draft. Ball State and Northern Illinois are the only two schools from the Mid-American Conference to have at least two players drafted in 2014.
Newsome was a 2013 All-MAC First-Team selection after earning second-team honors in 2012. A transfer from Ohio State, Newsome started 21 games in his two seasons at Ball State. He managed a career high two sacks vs. Central Michigan, vs. Miami University and at Virginia in 2013, while managing a career high three tackles for loss against Miami U. Newsome tallied a career high eight tackles vs. Northern Illinois as a junior in 2012 and tied that mark at Army in the same season. He totalled 116 tackles and 24.5 tackles for loss with 16.5 sacks in his two seasons at Ball State.
“It is a dream-come-true moment,” Newsome said. “It has been a long, stressful process. I’m happy to be a Colt. We ran multiple fronts at Ball State. We ran 4-3, we ran 3-4, we ran a lot of nickel. When we ran 3-4, I was an outside linebacker. I stood up a lot. When we ran a 4-3, I stood up on the edge. I can do all that stuff.”
Wenning set Ball State single-season school records for passing yards (4,148), pass attempts (498), pass completions (319) and touchdown passes (35) in 2013. In addition, the All-Mid-American Conference Second-Team selection, also set career records for the Cardinals for passing yards (11,402), pass attempts (1,642), pass completions (1,035) and touchdown passes (92). Wenning was one of 10 semifinalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate quarterback last fall. He was the only quarterback in the Football Bowl Subdivision to throw for 299 yards or more in 10 regular season games in 2013. Wenning became the first Ball State quarterback to top 4,000 passing yards in a season and his 4,148 yards ranked sixth in the country and third in MAC history. Wenning finished his career ranked third in the MAC in career pass completions and attempts, fourth in career passing yards and fourth in career passing touchdowns. He became the seventh Ball State student-athlete to ever appear in the East-West Shrine Game and the first since Reggie Hodges competed as a punter in the 2004 contest.
“I am not going to come in and try to beat out Joe Flacco,” Wenning said. “He is the starter. He is the man. He is a great quarterback I can learn from. I believe I can push and try to make other guys around me better. I think it is a great opportunity. Not every guy gets the opportunity to play behind a Super Bowl winning quarterback. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity I am going to take full advantage of.”
Under the direction of Lembo, the Cardinals finished the 2013 season with a 10-3 overall record and an appearance in the GoDaddy Bowl. The 10 wins marked only the third time in school history a Ball State team has amassed at least 10 wins in a season, while the bowl appearance was the second straight for the Cardinals after appearing in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg after the 2012 campaign.