Pack Pride takes a look back at five story lines that proved important as NC State assembled the class of 2012. From decommitments to big wins, 2011 had a little bit of everything and ended up being one of the more dramatic recruiting efforts ever under head coach Tom O'Brien.
5. Pack Maintains Official Visit Consistency
If you're an NC State fan and want an early glimpse of the Wolfpack's potential signing class then you really don't need to look much further than who the Pack brings in on an official visit.
One of the constants under head coach Tom O'Brien and his staff has been the efficiency with which they conduct their official visits and this past year was no exception.
The Pack hosted a total of 31 visitors for the class of 2012 and 25 of those committed to NC State. However, two (Terry Davis and James Summers) would ultimately end up at other schools. Even so, 23 of 31 was a solid 74% success rate and further proof of how well the Wolfpack coaches perform in identifying players and then selling State's program.
Of the Pack's 23 commitments, 10 committed after making their official visit while eight players visited but ended up signing with other teams.
4. Clemson Victory Impacts Recruiting
Mired at 5-5, the Pack had to win it's final two games of 2011 to qualify for a bowl. At the time, not many gave NC State a chance against Clemson's offensive juggernaut with the Tigers coming into Carter-Finley boasting a 9-1 record and top ten ranking.
However, it would end up being a Wolfpack buzz saw that ran through Clemson that day with State thoroughly whipping the Tigers in virtually every facet of the game en route to a 37-13 shocker.
The game also proved crucial for recruiting with State hosting OL Quincy McKinney, S Jarnor Jones and DE Kenderius Whitehead on official visits that weekend as well as DE Desmond Owino who was at State on an unofficial visit. All four would ultimately commit to the Pack.
State also had several of the top juniors on hand including DE Lewis Neal, RB T.J. Logan, OL Brandon Smith, OL Tyrone Crowder and OL D.J. Park.
Pack Pride caught up with several recruits already committed to NC State at the time of the Wolfpack's improbable blowout win and they could barely contain their excitement.
DT K'Hadree Hooker told Pack Pride, "It was a great day for Wolfpack nation, coach O'Brien and his staff and most importantly the players. It was like David and Goliath where state played the role of David and slayed the giant. The boys talked about how they are playing with there backs against the wall and it showed Saturday. Im just ready to be there next year."
CB Marchez Coates added, "It was crazy! The fans and the intensity of the game was great. State is definitely the school for me and I can't wait to get started and to play in that atmosphere. That atmosphere is like no other. I'm glad that I'm a part of the family and whoever comes to any home game, just know that State will be live no matter what."
3. Pack Lands Defensive Tackle, Vocal Recruiter
The first time K'Hadree Hooker's name is announced on the PA system in Carter-Finley Stadium, there's a pretty good chance he'll receive a rousing ovation from the Wolfpack faithful.
With recruiting growing into a spectator sport of its own, it's transformed into a process where nearly every move, tweet or quote from a recruit is analyzed and dissected by recruiting fans.
One of the best at getting his message out was Hooker and after committing to NC State last August, became one of the Pack's most vocal supporters and active recruiters. He relentlessly promoted the Wolfpack to fellow recruits and emerged as the center piece and face of the NC State class of 2013. He never wavered in his support of the Pack and made sure every prospect on the Wolfpack recruiting board knew about it.
He was a huge advocate for State at the Shrine Bowl and went after Bryce Kennedy and Todd Gurley specifically. Hooker also stayed close with Georgia DE Kenderius Whitehead and former UNC commit Desmond Owino.
While State has had recruits sell the Pack to other recruits in year's past, no one has come close to the dedication and tenacity shown by Hooker.
2. Year Of The Decommitment
Commitments and decommitments have always been a part of recruiting but until recent years were often a rarity. As coverage of recruiting has expanded there are few secrets on the trail and pressure has increased on college coaching staffs to keep recruiting-crazed fanbases satiated.
Whether simply a change in the culture of today's players or the high pressure tactics employed by college coaches, it's a safe bet that the recruiting flip-flop will continue at least until the NCAA finally implements an early signing period.
Perhaps no college team in the nation was effected by the decommitment more than NC State. Fortunately for the Wolfpack, they came out on the winning end more often than not but lost a few along the way as well.
A.J. Doyle committed to the Pack but decided he wanted pursue an opportunity to stay at quarterback versus playing linebacker at NC State. He would end up at Massachusetts.
James Summers viewed the landscape at NC State with five QB's ahead of him and decided UNC gave him a better shot to try out and stick at quarterback.
Lakeith Walls looked solid for State but at the behest of his family, decided he wanted to play football closer to home and flipped to Illinois.
A similar case was Terry Davis. He committed to State but an undisclosed family situation forced him to locate a school closer to home and he ended up at Miami (OH).
On the plus side, NC State landed six players formerly committed to other programs including Desmond Owino (UNC), Bryce Kennedy (UNC), Jarnor Jones (Middle Tennessee State), Shadrach Thornton (Kentucky), Drew Davis (Minnesota) and Marchez Coates (Pittsburgh).
Clearly decommitments have become a fixture in the fabric of recruiting. It's hard to imagine that this will do anything but become more prevalent headed forward- at least until the NCAA addresses it.
1. State Whips Georgia For One Of Their Own
The Pack has landed highly-rated talent under head coach Tom O'Brien but more often than not, those players have come from the state of North Carolina.
So, for the first time in O'Brien's tenure at NC State he was able to go into the heart of SEC country and steal a prospect from that area's football power, Georgia.
Landing Lithonia's (GA) Kenderius Whitehead was a huge get on many different levels for NC State, not the least of which was the fact the Pack landed one of the elite defensive ends in the southeast. He represented the elite pass rusher that has eluded State to some degree and should be an instant upgrade at defensive end once he hits the field.
On the recruiting side, Whitehead's commitment was huge for a team looking to establish credibility in Georgia- a state O'Brien has proclaimed as one of the Wolfpack's most important recruiting areas. Headed forward, O'Brien and his assistants can point to Whitehead when they go after some of Georgia's top talent and sell that it's okay to leave the SEC and play football at NC State. While the Pack is unlikely to routinely land top shelf players out of the state of Georgia, if they can cherry pick one here and there then Whitehead's decision could prove huge for the Wolfpack's recruiting success in the years to come.
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