Former Hoosier brings positive energy, 'mojo' to Ball State Football

<p>Graduate student cornerback Isaac James during football practice Aug. 23, at Scheumann Stadium. James played for Indiana in 2018 and recorded two tackles and an interception against Ball State. <strong>Jacob Musselman, DN</strong></p>

Graduate student cornerback Isaac James during football practice Aug. 23, at Scheumann Stadium. James played for Indiana in 2018 and recorded two tackles and an interception against Ball State. Jacob Musselman, DN

"I think about it all the time." 

"I try to forget it."

Quarterback Drew Plitt can't get it out of his head, while head coach Mike Neu tries to suppress it. 

Sep. 15, 2018. Plitt's pass on second-and-4 is intercepted as time expires, giving Ball State a 38-10 loss to Indiana. 

“They were dropping into cover four, and I just tried to fit one in there when there wasn’t enough room,” Plitt said.

So, who was the man who caught the ball? Junior safety Bryce Cosby knows exactly who.

"Isaac James.”

“Yeah, that was me,” James said sheepishly. “I just made a play on the ball — saw it, broke on it and caught it on the sideline to end the game.”

James graduated from Indiana in May with one more year of athletic eligibility left. After spending the majority of his collegiate career as a backup, James wanted to go somewhere he would play more often. When the opportunity to come to Ball State presented itself, James was all in.

Along with the playing time, James said he decided to become a Cardinal because of the growing culture within the football program. Ball State is in a rebuilding stage as it hasn’t had a winning season since 2013, but James was impressed with the leadership and said he wants to be part of the group that turns the program around.

“I’m just one of the older guys who wants to win,” James said. “This is my last season, so I’m trying to make it count. I’m trying to do whatever it takes to get this team to be as successful as possible. I just feel like I can bring a lot of knowledge and wisdom from my years of playing ball.”

So far, Neu said James has been “everything we could have asked for,” both as a player and a mentor for the younger guys on the team.

Graduate Student and Cornerback, Isaac James (12) flexes at practice on Aug. 23, 2019 at Scheumann Stadium. The Cardinals take on the Hoosiers on Aug. 31, 2019 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Jacob Musselman, DN

“To get his experience, to get his knowledge of the game, to get his passion — He was a great addition for us, a big get for us this offseason,” Neu said.

Cosby said James’ most noticeable feature has been his attitude. If you talk to those who work closest with him, they’ll say you’d be hard pressed to find anything but a smile on his face.

“[It] seems like he’s never having a bad day,” Cosby said. “He’s [up at] 6 in the morning and already at 100 percent. You always need guys like that on the team — guys that are going to remind you that you’ve still got to have fun with it.”

James has tried to have fun without talking about the Ball State-Indiana game last year, but he hasn’t been able to completely escape the conversation. It was the first thing brought up when he was introduced to Plitt.

“The first time I saw Isaac, coach [David] Elson was like, ‘Hey, by the way, this is [the guy who picked you off].’ I was like, ‘Thanks. Thanks for reminding me.’”

It also doesn’t help James that the Cardinals play the Hoosiers Saturday, so all the attention is on that matchup.

“I wasn’t going to bring it up. I was just going to let it die out,” James said. “I’ve been trying to leave the IU stuff in the past, but since it’s IU week, everybody wants to poke fun at me.”

Joking aside, teammates and coaches alike have come to James for advice regarding their opening-week contest against Indiana. After playing with both teams, James said it’s anybody’s game.

Graduate Student and Cornerback, Isaac James (12) and Redshirt Senior and Inside Linebacker, Jacob White (2) pose at football practice on Aug. 23, 2019 at Scheumann Stadium. James transferred from Indiana University before the fall 2019 semester. Jacob Musselman, DN

“The competitor in me wants this side to win," James said. "We’re going to do everything it takes to win. I know from being on this side that we have the tools to get it done just as much as they do.”

Neu has tried to leave “the interception” in the past, but now he’s looking forward to more.

“I told him to bring that mojo with him here and make that same play but in this uniform,” Neu said.

James has tried to leave his time at Indiana in the past, and now he’s fully focused on his new home.

“I could see myself playing here,” James said. “Definitely a little different, but it’s home.”

Contact Zach Piatt with any comments at or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.


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