In a sense, the clock was ticking for Malik Dunner.
When he called Ball State running backs coach Justin Lustig, who had been serving as his primary recruiter, on Friday he learned that the Cardinals had 18 scholarship spots, but only a couple remaining. So, sooner or later, Dunner understood he needed to make a decision.
“I could tell he wanted me to take it,” he said.
He didn’t wait long.
Just hours later, the Dundee-Crown running back, who will be a senior this fall, committed to play at Ball State.
“I didn’t have to make my commitment today,” Dunner said. “I wanted to. I still had time, but I just wanted to get it off my shoulders.”
The 5-foot-10, 186-pound back had also received a scholarship offer from North Dakota State, the three-time defending Division I-Football Championship Subdivision national champions, and was receiving interest from South Dakota State.
“It feels pretty good,” he added. “Now, I can focus on school, high school football. It takes my mind off some things, but I’m very excited about it.”
Dunner, who transferred to D-C after his sophomore season at Elgin, rushed for 230 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries for the Chargers last fall. It’s his versatility, though, that seems to be turning heads. He has played some wide receiver, where he may line up for the Cardinals. He has also played defensive back, and special teams. The speedy Dunner was also clocked in the 100m at 10.97 seconds during the spring.
New Dundee-Crown coach Mike Steinhaus, who was promoted to the position in April after previously serving as the offensive coordinator, was a tight end at Ball State under Brady Hoke from 2003-06.
“I like the people there,” Dunner said of Ball State. “That’s probably the biggest part. The head coach, Coach Lembo, really takes the education seriously. He puts education before football. It’s just a program headed in the right direction.”