KeVonn Mabon — 2016 statistics
Receiving yards: 153
Yards per catch: 11.8
Long reception: 24
If it didn't get tipped, KeVonn Mabon thinks it would've gone for a touchdown.
With 11 minutes left in the second quarter of the 30-20 loss to Indiana on Sept. 10, Mabon ran an out-breaking route with the defender playing inside of him. Quarterback Riley Neal's pass was batted at the line, and the ball floated through the air in slow motion — the kind of up-for-grabs ball that looked like it could very well end up in the hands of a Hoosier.
But like he has done throughout his career, Mabon went up and made a play. His third catch of the game went for 11 yards and a Ball State first down.
That catch made Mabon the 10th player in Ball State history to eclipse 2,000 career receiving yards. The 6-foot-2-inch receiver has been Neal's favorite target through two games with 13 receptions and 153 yards.
"I sat down with [head coach Mike Neu] for about 30 minutes or so about the look KeVonn has in his eye on game day," Neal said. "He comes ready to play. He's got some dog in him. When he's on the sideline, coach will ask him, 'How'd you look on this play?' And he'll tell you, 'I was open, I was open.' It doesn't matter who was guarding him. But that's how all the good receivers are. He wants the ball every play and believes he's open every time."
Mabon is currently on pace for 78 catches and 918 yards this season, both of which would be career highs.
He also finished his five-catch, 84-yard performance against Indiana in ninth place on the receiving list with 2,043 career receiving yards. Now that he's had time to sit and reflect on the individual milestone, Mabon said it's a remarkable feat.
"I look at the receiving records, and there aren't that many guys that are over 2,000 in Ball State history," he said. "So I think that's a big accomplishment."
Mabon is still looking for a signature moment this season. But through two games, he said he's just being himself. And that's just fine with Neu.
"There are players you can look at their face and know, 'Give it to me. I need it, I want the ball' in the right way, and not a selfish manner," Neu said. "He's one of those guys we've got to get the ball in his hands as many ways as possible."
A lot of Mabon's work has come in the short passing game this season. He's turned some short passes into big gains and even got involved in the rushing game at Indiana with an 8-yard gain on an end-around.
He prides himself on being Neal's go-to receiver in third down situations.
"I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing," Mabon said. "I'm making the most of the plays that come to me. I haven't made any spectacularly huge plays, but I've made a lot of clutch plays on third downs and getting the ball to the goal line. I'm just doing my job."
It's a matter of time before Mabon gets that first touchdown of the season. But until he does, he will just keep being the consistent playmaker that he's been throughout his career.
"If you're ever not sure, he's the first guy you'd want to go to," Neal said. "He's big, physical, has some speed to him. He has good hands, he'll catch anything. If you ever aren't sure, No. 16 is a good guy to look to."