And while depth is good, it can also create questions about who will start and who will see the most snaps. That's been especially true in the defensive secondary, where multiple players have had opportunities to contribute during the last two season.
C.J. Wilson is one of those guys, and the redshirt junior from Lincolnton, North Carolina is ready to step up once again. After starting all 13 games in 2010, Wilson found himself second on the depth chart heading into fall camp, backing up David Amerson at the field corner position.
Maybe it was a surprise but certainly not something Wilson let himself dwell on. It's just not the way NC State operates at this point in O'Brien's tenure.
"I can't worry about what is going on with the depth chart," Wilson said. "All I can do is keep working and try to get better every day. I come out focused, work on my game and know that when my times comes I have to be ready."
And when starting boundary corner Jarvis Byrd went down before camp began in August, Wilson knew he would be called on. And like he said, he was ready.
"It's always key to have a lot of depth," he said. "We can work people in when someone gets hurt of tired and we have people that can play. It doesn't feel weird to have things happen like that, it just feels like a normal day because of how we approach it."
Wilson said that's how every member of the defense approaches things during the offseason -- with a team-first mindset designed at making the whole unit better. It's not a time to focus on the depth chart or where certain players might fit in once the 2011 season.
"I don't think there was a time I came out here on my own because it's not allowed," he said of offseason team workouts. "If you come out, you bring somebody else with you. It makes the group better as a whole."
With zone schemes requiring defensive backs to pass receivers off to each other, improving as a whole may be just as important as anything any one player could do on his own in the offseason. It's that approach that has Wilson excited about the 2011 defense.
Back in his role as a starter, Wilson said he and the rest of the defense are out to prove a point to the ACC and the rest of the country.
"Our mindset is the same, we come in with a chip on our shoulder looking to earn respect as a defense," he said. "Especially in the secondary, because we don't feel like we're respected as a group. We're trying to prove to people that we are one of the best defenses in the conference and maybe even in the country."
And as for his personal growth, Wilson said his spring and summer was filled with backpedals, film study and time in the weight room. He said defensive back coach Mike Reed's approach allowed him to stay focused on the overall goal.
"We have fun, but we work hard," Wilson said. "He makes sure we worry about what's happening on the field and nothing else. Being here so long and knowing what to do makes it easier. You don't have to worry about what to do anymore, you can just play."