Spring Outlook: N.C. State

CUTigers.com takes you on a tour through the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Team: N.C. State
Location: Raleigh, N.C.
Enrollment: 29,637
Stadium: Carter-Finley
Capacity: 57,500
Scout.com Recruiting Ranking: 42 (8th ACC)
Spring Practice Begins: March 15
Spring Game: April 8

SIGNING DAY UPDATE: In recruiting, it's often all about perception, and the Wolfpack had plenty of perception issues to sell this year.

Bowl games. New facilities. Increased fan support. More of a buzz in football. It's what may have offset the limited talent pool in North Carolina, along with the constant struggle to get a national name. Playing well in the final six games, which included a bowl win against South Florida, also salvaged recruiting.

"These young men we recruited this year, they know what we've done for the last six years," said N.C. State coach Chuck Amato. "And it wasn't a six-game impact, it's been a six-year impact. That's the whole story there.

"You look around this place, and four years ago none of this was here. None of it. And two years ago, this (new football) building wasn't here. And last year that building on stilts wasn't there. And those seats. And the construction that's gone on.

"They (recruits) see all that, and they know we've been to five bowls in six years. And they know we've won four of 'em."

One year after signing 14 linemen, the Wolfpack searched for skill-position players in a 20-player recruiting class, headlined by 11 players from Florida. Amato, a longtime Florida State assistant, continues using his connections in Florida to get the players who slip past Florida, FSU and Miami. "We fit our needs, and that's the whole thing in recruiting -- to fit your needs and have these youngsters come in and challenge for playing time," he said.

Amato is sensitive to the issue of not being able to land the best players in his own state. The Wolfpack signed only six North Carolina high school stars, and several players opted to go elsewhere.

"You always have misses. We worked this state as hard as anybody in this state or in the country," Amato said. "But if you look at this stuff, there's a lot of people (recruits) who have left this state that didn't even visit any of the in-state schools.

"Going into the year, a lot of people felt the talent level (in North Carolina) wasn't like it was a year ago or what it might be next year. And you gotta sign 'em from somewhere. So we have to go elsewhere. Like everyone else."

TOP RECRUITS: WR-CB DeAndre Morgan, Riviera Beach, Fla. -- A three-year starter who grabbed four interceptions as a junior and averaged 11.8 yards a carry as a running back. He is considered one of Florida's fastest athletes, allegedly clocked at a blazing 4.26 seconds in the 40-yard dash at one summer camp.

WR Jarvis Williams, Orlando -- One of the top speed guys in the class. He had 40 catches for 650 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as a senior. Williams also played safety and returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown. Second-team all-state as a senior.

PK Nathan Franklin, Wilmington, N.C. -- A Shrine Bowl selection. Named all state, all-conference and all-county as a senior. He averaged 45 yards a punt as a senior. Hit 7-of-10 field goals as a junior with a long of 47 yards.

GLANCE AT 2006: Early defections to the NFL have hurt the Wolfpack's outlook. The team must replace three wide receivers and two of its best offensive lineman. On defense, the losses are more dramatic. Both rush ends, Manny Lawson, a senior and Mario Williams, a junior, are heading to the NFL. They were the core of a defense, along with senior cornerback Marcus Hudson.

* Working in N.C. State's favor, however, is a schedule which is cushy this year. The non-conference games are Appalachian State, Akron and Southern Mississippi. The ACC road trips are Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Clemson, which is somewhat workable. Dual-purpose kicker John Deraney proved a valuable asset. The backfield is set. But it won't be the same defense.

* Manny Diaz, the team's safeties' coach and special teams coordinator, left N.C. State to become defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State. It continues a meteoric rise for Diaz, the son of Miami mayor Manny Diaz Sr. The younger Diaz started as a volunteer assistant at FSU, where he earned his degree, then became a grad assistant/cinematographer at N.C. State.

* Rick Kravitz, a 21-year collegiate coaching veteran, was hired as his replacement. Kravitz spent the last 10 years at the University of South Florida, working with the linebackers and secondary over the years in addition to being an assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator the last five seasons.

SPRING QUESTIONS: The losses of Mario Williams and Manny Lawson on the defensive line are enormous. Will the Wolfpack defense come close to resembling what it did last year? Heading into spring, redshirt freshman Willie Young and converted tackle John Amanchukwu are listed as the starters at end- quite a difference froma year ago. Offensively, Marcus Stone settles in as the starter at quarterback. Can he be the signal caller that makes State fans finally forget about Philip Rivers? Jay Davis couldn't do it but Stone has more ability.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Second in recruiting doesn't mean doodily-doodily squat. It really doesn't. I mean, we were second in a lot of 'em this year. But you gotta get the gold prize in recruiting. The rest of it doesn't matter." -- N.C. State coach Chuck Amato on near-misses in his team's recruiting efforts.

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