Respectable N.C. State Class Centered On OL
By Zack Shelby
The North Carolina State Wolfpack made significant strides Wednesday during National Signing Day as it begins the process of trying to claw out of the ACC cellar after a disastrous 2013 season.
Coming off a season in which the Wolfpack lost all its conference games, including all but one by double digits, the Wolfpack has to consider its signing day, ranked 33rd nationally and seventh in the ACC by 24/7 Sports, as a huge success.
Among the 30 players N.C. State signed were five desperately-needed offensive linemen. The Wolfpack's front line finished 111th in the nation in sacks allowed each of the last two seasons. Among the fresh beef N.C. State picked up was 24/7 four-star recruit Will Richardson, a 6-foot-7, 295-pound tackle. Richardson turned down Florida State and decided not to honor a verbal commitment to Virginia for a chance to play in Raleigh. The Wolfpack also nabbed three-star recruit Terronne Prescod, a 6-foot-5, 335-pound guard, who turned down an offer from Auburn.
Richardson and Prescod may have a chance to be a factor in year one because of their size, but it may be difficult for the other 2014 offensive lineman recruits to make an immediate impact in part because they might not have enough sand in their pants just yet. Also, as N.C. State SB Nation writer Omega Wolf points out, "Offensive line play is just awfully damn complicated." Wolf's article also states that he thinks quarterback Jacoby Brissett is "probably going to spend most of next year (2014) trying to escape the pocket long enough to throw the ball out of bounds, but the future looks brighter at the position with every red light."
Although Richardson and Prescod are two huge men who will fill holes along the Wolfpack line, the crowning jewel of the 2014 class probably lies in consensus four-star recruit defensive end Kentavius Street. The 6-foot-2, 265-pounder from Greenville, N.C., was rated No. 2 in North Carolina/No. 43 overall by Rivals, and No. 4 in North Carolina/No. 68 overall by ESPN.
Street had offers from Clemson, Florida, Florida St., LSU, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Tennessee, among others. He brings a combination of quickness and strength and could be a starter before the end of the season given the team's woes at the position.
N.C. State also landed four-star quarterback Jalan McClendon. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder out of Charlotte is the 20th-rated quarterback and 16th overall in the state, according to Scout. The Wolfpack were able to lay claim to McClendon despite offers from Florida State, Miami, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.
Because former Florida transfer Brissett is now eligible to play, McClendon might not get his shot right away, but that should change sometime down the road. Perhaps that will happen around the same time the overhauled offensive line rounds into form and on to the field in Raleigh.
In three-star recruit Bo Hines, N.C. State nabbed another Charlotte native, and 6-foot-1, 190-pound wide receiver. Hines is ranked as the No. 85 wide receiver by Rivals and the No. 55 athlete by 24/7. Hines, who was also recruited by Nebraska, became the first player to commit to N.C. State in April, and draws comparisons to NFL receiver Wes Welker. Rivals has Hines' 40-yard dash timed at 4.41 seconds. Because of Hines' speed, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could be used in the return game and/or have a special package designed for him on offense.
Although N.C. State was so bad in 2013 that it's hard to imagine anything other than an improvement, the Wolfpack appeared to have made an impact on the recruiting front under the leadership of Dave Doeren, who took over as coach in 2013.
"We think we've got a great class," Doeren said on National Signing Day in an ESPN.com article by Heather Dinich. ESPN ranked N.C. State's class 38th in the nation, which should be something for Wolfpack lovers to be excited about given their recent recruiting and on-the-field struggles.
Doeren certainly is.
"You have to validate that now with Rivals, Scout and ESPN, but 27 of the 33 kids were ranked in the top 100 at their position by one of those services. Fifteen were in the top 50, seven were in the top 25, and three were in the top 10, so we feel like there’s validation on the quality, not just the quantity of the class,” he said.
Doeren conceded the obvious: N.C. State had many needs, but feels his program is on the prowl.
"We wanted to add depth and competition to our roster and we’ve done that across the board," Doeren said.