Early Look at 10 of NC State's Top Targets

Pack Pride takes an early look at ten of NC State's top targets for the class of 2012 and breaks down the Wolfpack's chances with each.

The spring evaluation period begins in earnest in mid-April. This is a critical time for college coaches to identify talent for next year's class. Until then, Pack Pride takes a look at 10 prospects who are already high on the Wolfpack's recruiting board and what State's chances may be to land each.

DT K'Hadree Hooker...6-2, 270 pounds...South Lenoir High School, Deep Run, NC
Notes...Hooker is a player that the NC State coaches have been on for quite a while and he's made multiple trips to visit the Wolfpack going back to his sophomore year.

Defensive tackle is always a position of need and Hooker is a player that the Pack needs to land given their early, favorable position with him.

Although he shies away from naming particular favorites, many feel State is the team to beat although Hooker has additional offers from the likes of South Carolina, UNC, Louisville, Duke and East Carolina.

TE Dan Beilinson...6-5, 230 pounds...Panther Creek High School, Raleigh, NC
Notes...NC State was the first school to offer Beilinson and the Pack is in great shape with him early on.

Since the Wolfpack made their offer, Duke, Arizona State and Vanderbilt have done the same. We think Beilinson really has the potential to blow up this spring once other colleges get a chance to see him in person so it's important for State that they stay at the forefront of his recruiting.

Location could be another factor that might play to the Pack's advantage.

DE Evan Duke...6-4, 220 pounds...Wake Forest (NC) Rolesville High School
Notes...Duke is just one of two prospects to make this early list without an NC State offer. However, we feel pretty confident that a Wolfpack offer will likely come at some point over the next four months. He has a ton of potential and the only question may be whether he can get big enough for the D-1 level.

Alabama recently asked him to visit for their spring practice and they've actually been one of the schools that has been showing some of the heaviest interest. That should be a pretty good indicator of his talent level.

For now, State leads and could prove tough to beat should they offer.

OL Mark Harrell...6-5, 260 pounds...Charlotte (NC) Catholic High School
Notes...There was a feeling early on that a Wolfpack offer could put a quick end to Harrell's recruiting. After State joined Duke, Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Virginia with an official pledge, Michigan and West Virginia complicated things by making offers of their own while Notre Dame has offered as well.

Clearly, Harrell has emerged as one of the state's most sought after offensive linemen. The Pack's efforts are headed up by offensive line coach Jim Bridge which is a huge plus and we still feel really good about State's chances although it may not be as clear cut as it was just a month ago.

RB/ATH Todd Gurley...6-1, 195 pounds...Tarboro, NC
Notes...Gurley may be one of the better in-state prospects that hasn't received a lot of early publicity. He has the ability to star on offense or defense but has expressed a desire to stay at running back in college.

For now, Duke, NC State and UNC are the main contenders with the Blue Devils holding a slight, early lead. The Pack was a little later in getting Gurley onto campus so they had some ground to make up.

However, we feel like State is in good position to make a run at Gurley over the next two months and next up will be to get him back on campus for one of the spring practices. Location could play a factor.

OL Caleb Stacey...6-4, 280 pounds...Oak Hills High School, Cincinnati, OH
Notes...Stacey is now approaching double digit scholarship offers and one of the first to jump into the mix was NC State.

The Pack's early pledge made an impression and he had a great visit to Raleigh recently- specifically mentioning State facilities as one of the things that jumped out at him. State targets Ohio heavily every year which means the Big 10 is always going to be an obstacle and that's likely to be the case with Stacey.

He visited Illinois this past weekend and will be going to Indiana and Michigan over the next couple of weeks. The Wolfpack has a good shot at Stacey but it'll certainly be a battle. They would certainly like to get him back on campus once spring practice starts in a few weeks.

DE Jamal Marcus...6-3, 220 pounds...Hillside High School, Durham, NC
Notes...State has been a factor in Durham over the last couple of years with mixed results. Tony Creecy was a huge get for the Pack in last year's class but missing out on Sherman Ragland and Vad Lee in 2011 were tough pills to swallow.

The Pack will make a run at one of next year's top Bull City prospects in Marcus. This will be an interesting recruiting race to watch because NC State's newest coaching hire, Everette Sands, will head up the Pack's efforts. Sands is known as a personable coach and outstanding recruiter so that should play in State's favor. It won't be easy, however, as Marcus has accumulated offers from UNC, Auburn, Georgia Tech and Oregon among others.

While State looked particularly strong early on, he grew up a fan of UNC with former teammate Vad Lee now at Georgia Tech.

WR Kevin Jones...5-11, 180 pounds...Middle Creek High School, Apex, NC
Notes...Were Jones in better academic standing, he likely would be one of the local area's most highly recruited prospects. He landed his first and only offer from NC State after an impressive workout in front of the Wolfpack's coaches at their camp last summer. The Pack has continued to recruit him heavily and have established themselves as a solid leader early on.

There have been unconfirmed reports of Jones transferring to Hargrave Military Academy to improve his grades. If that happens, there's a good chance Jones' recruiting could take off later in the year. For now, State is the team to beat.

TE A.J. Williams...6-6, 260 pounds...Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, OH
Notes...NC State was one of the first major BCS level schools to offer Williams a scholarship but the Pack has since been joined by the likes of Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State, and Boston College. Williams seemed extremely excited about the offer from State when Pack Pride talked to him a couple of weeks ago and he stated he plans to visit the Wolfpack over the coming weeks.

We must admit that we felt better about State's chances prior to the offer from the Wolverines because the Big 10 is always going to be a huge hurdle for any Ohio prospect. Therefore,  a visit to Raleigh is going to be crucial and the Pack will have to go all out to maintain itself as a major player.

OL Jacob Ingle...6-2, 275 pounds...Williams High School, Burlington, NC
Notes...Ingle is the only other player to make our early list without an offer from the Wolfpack. The only limiting factor with Ingle is his lack of ideal height but he more than makes up for it with effort, intelligence and persistence.

He is clearly a major target for State based solely on the number of times the Wolfpack coaching staff has invited him on campus. He has been a frequent visitor to Raleigh but State appears set on watching him at camp before extending an offer. It will be interesting to see if they give him a look at defensive tackle or if Ingle will stay exclusively at center.

For now, UNC and NC State are the two teams that appear to be at the top of the heap and whoever offers first may be tough to beat.

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