Receptions record speaks to Mabon's consistency at Ball State
Size, speed, route-running ability — none of that means anything if a wide receiver can't catch the football.
But Ball State's KeVonn Mabon has that. All of that, in fact. And now he's got a place atop the program record book to show for it.
Mabon finished last week's season-ending 21-20 loss at Miami with 244 career catches, breaking the mark Dante Ridgeway set in 2004 for the most receptions in Ball State program history. The fifth-year senior out of St. Louis, Missouri, complemented that record with 2,862 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns, both of those stats also ranking in the top 10 in school history.
KeVonn Mabon — Career stats
Receptions — 244
Receiving yards — 2,862
Receiving TDs — 12
Yards per catch — 11.7
Kick return average — 24.5
Kick return TDs — 1
"It feels amazing," Mabon said after the Miami game. "That wasn't one of my goals coming in, you know, just coming in and trying to play. But as the years went on, and I started looking and saw it was an attainable goal, I went after it and attacked it as hard as I could."
The record is a testament to the consistency he's shown since joining the program in 2012.
And yet, he's done it through some adversity. Mabon didn't accumulate the big stats his first year (just 23 catches for 335 yards and two scores), and received a medical redshirt after breaking his collarbone four games into his second year.
He's played with four different quarterbacks (Keith Wenning, Ozzie Mann, Jack Milas and Riley Neal), and went through a coaching overhaul before this season.
First-year head coach Mike Neu had nothing but praise for the way Mabon has worked through everything to get to this point.
"He's a class act, man," Neu said. "His hard work on the practice field, his hard work in the meeting room, his hard work in every phase of the program — it's good to see guys that put that kind of work in have that kind of success in their career at Ball State."
Mabon has done a little of everything for the Cardinals this year — returned kicks, taken handoffs on reverses and lined up at quarterback out of the wildcat — and he's done them well.
Even doing all that, Mabon managed to achieve career highs in receptions (85) and receiving yards (972) this season on his way to the record. He knew exactly how close he was to history going into the game against Miami.
"All week, I was kind of in coach [Joey] Lynch's and Riley [Neal]'s ear, to let them know six catches is all I need," Mabon said. "Once I got that sixth catch, I gave that ball to coach [Alex] Bailey and told him to keep it, because that's the record."
Mabon tied the record on a 16-yard grab on a crossing pattern toward the right side, and broke it on a 7-yard catch on the next drive. He finished the game with 11 receptions and 122 yards, along with a 25-yard touchdown.
"It kind of cements his legacy here," Neal said of his star wide receiver. "I've been around here forever, so I've heard the name KeVonn Mabon for a while. I remember hearing it. It's just kind of a combination of everything he's done."
Now that Mabon's career at Ball State is over, he's got his sights set on the NFL. He's currently ranked No. 52 out of 383 draft eligible wide receivers on nfldraftscout.com.
It's probably a good sign that a couple other recent Ball State standouts — Willie Snead and Jordan Williams-Lambert — are having success in the New Orleans Saints organization. Now that Mabon has the receptions record over those two, it's even more special.
"It's always a big deal when you can say you're No. 1 in something," Mabon said earlier in the week. "I guess with being No. 1, or being up there in the top five, that puts me in the same category as those guys. Whenever you can put your name up there, it's a big deal."
Whether Mabon gets a shot in the NFL remains to be seen, but the Ball State receptions record should impress scouts. With his size, speed and route-running ability?
He might get a shot.