Because the bowl practices can essentially be split over an extended period of time, college coaches use a few practices to work almost exclusively with the redshirt players who are normally participating on the scout team.
It gives the upperclassmen in the regular rotation some time to heal or rest up for the bowl season, but it also gives a glimpse at the potential of the underclassmen.
"When I was hurt, I had the chance to see those guys start to grow," said senior defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy. "It was a pretty cool thing. I was able to help coach them up a bit, but seeing them progress was great.
"It's almost the same during the bowl practices because we can get less reps and the younger guys can work out even more for the coaches... you can see their potential."
Working up front with the defensive linemen, Sweezy likes what the Pack will be heading into 2012 with, even with himself, Markus Kuhn, and Jeff Rieskamp no longer around.
"You've got guys like Thomas Teal, Art Norman, T.Y. McGill, and [Darryl] Cato-Bishop," Sweezy stated. "Obviously, I think with those guys we'll be set. They got better every week."
Those four were a part of the rotation in 2011, but two players redshirting this season also caught his eye. "Forrest West, he's going to be good... he's already played at Colorado," added Sweezy. "He's a transfer for us that's going to be real good.
"Then you've got Carlos [Gray]... he's going to be the real deal. I think he's going to be real good."
What does Sweezy like about Gray's game?
"He's big, physical," he said. "The crazy thing is he is still in high school mode... just coming off, not using his hands but still making plays. Once he gets to where he can use his hands, no one will be able to stop him."
Gray has also impressed sophomore cornerback David Amerson.
"We've got some great young guys on the defensive line like Carlos," said Amerson. "I like what I've seen from him. He's going to be pretty good for us. I think he'll be one of the new guys to step up next year."
Amerson, NC State's all-american cornerback, spent time during bowl workouts observing the underclassmen at his position. Did anyone catch his eye?
"We've got a young corner, Juston Burris, I think he's going to be pretty good," said Amerson. "He can play. He's a long guy with long arms. He has really good athletic ability.
"Like I said, I think we'll have a lot of new guys make plays for us next year that weren't out there this year."
Redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon feels the same way. Leading the offense, it's vital to his success that playmakers emerge at the skill positions, especially at wideout where the Wolfpack will lose three seniors in T.J. Graham, Jay Smith, and Steven Howard.
That playmaker might be true freshman Hakeem Flowers. A highly-regarded recruit out of South Carolina, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder redshirted this season and head coach Tom O'Brien said he spent the final six weeks working with the regular offense, gaining experience and building a relationship with Glennon. The Pack's signal-caller took notice.
"I think a person that has a lot of potential and if he keeps working hard he'll be good is Hakeem Flowers," said Glennon. "He's shown signs of being a good player. I think he has a lot of natural ability and is willing to work at it."
We saw redshirt freshmen like Art Norman and Tony Creecy contribute at various points this season... don't be surprised when guys like Hakeem Flowers, Juston Burris, and Carlos Gray do the same next fall.