In February, nineteen student-athletes signed letters of intent to join the Wolfpack football squad for the 2011 season. One other newcomer, junior college transfer McKay Frandsen, enrolled at NC State in January and participated in spring drills with the team.
With the second summer session underway, all 20 student-athletes are enrolled and eligible, certainly a rarity at NC State and most high-major college programs.
Pack Pride recruiting analyst Steve Williams, who has been covering NC State recruiting since 1998, stated this is the first class that he has tracked which had every single signee qualify academically. Therefore, over the previous 13 seasons at least one recruit failed to qualify that had signed a letter of intent with the Wolfpack.
NC State head coach Tom O'Brien and his staff did a terrific job of targeting players capable of filling their roster needs while also placing an emphasis on academics.
"Heading into this recruiting season, our biggest area of concern was replacing our specialists," O'Brien said on National Signing Day. "We have filled those needs by signing one of the top punters in the country, one of the top kickers in the country and one of the top snappers in the country."
The class is a large one in terms of physical size, with only one signee listed under six feet tall.
"This group of young men has size, length and speed," O'Brien continued. "Many of them are also versatile athletes who competed in multiple sports in high school. That gives us a lot of flexibility to be be able to put guys in the right position in terms of their skills and our needs.
"Most importantly, this is a very unselfish class. They are concerned with coming in and helping us achieve our goal of winning a championship. They are confident that we will put them in the best position to succeed individually and for us to succeed as a team."
Even better news for Wolfpack fans is that O'Brien believes he finally has his program at the point where several of the signees won't be asked to play as true freshmen, although a few, particularly the specialists, will get an opportunity to do so.
"I hope we are at the stage right now that we are not going to be counting on as many freshmen as we have the last two years," he stated. "There are going to be a couple, there are some intriguing guys obviously. I think it may be more of a redshirt class than it is anything and that would be best for us.
"I hope all of them come in here wanting to be the guy who can come in here and make the play in the last minute of the game that can help us get to the championship game. That is what their challenge has to be.
"It's always a question of who can learn and execute the offense or defense. Talent sometimes has to take a back seat to those guys who can execute whatever you are doing."
SIGNEES TO WATCH
WR Hakeem Flowers (Wade Hampton HS, Simpsonville, S.C.) -- Flowers adds some badly-needed size and athleticism to a group of wide receivers that is largely untested. He is one of the recruits who could see early playing time, given the team's lack of depth at his position.
P Will Baumann (J.T. Hoggard HS, Wilmington, N.C.) -- Baumann is the one guy who should definitely play as a freshman -- coach Tom O'Brien all but anointed him the starting punter on Signing Day. Scout.com has him as the third-best prep punter in the country.
K Niklas Sade (Wakefield HS, Wake Forest, N.C.) -- Sade was rated the third-best high-school kicker in the country by the folks at Scout.com. He enters a Wolfpack program that loses Josh Czajkowski to graduation, and Sade should know what it will take to replace him -- he's worked with Czajkowski's former trainer, two-time Lou Groza candidate Dan Orner.
DE McKay Frandsen (Snow College, Ephraim, UT) -- All-American selection enrolled in January and is expected to contribute right away for NC State.
The Wolfpack must replace three of its top four defensive ends from last season, so Frandsen should see the field instantly in Raleigh.
NOTABLE CLASS OF 2011 LINKS