Midway through the third quarter against Clemson, Palmer caught an innocuous-looking swing pass from Mike Glennon at the 50-yard line. But then he immediately shifted into another gear and blew by two Clemson defenders, broke an arm tackle, juked another defender and bolted the last 20 yards to the end zone.
"He showed his ability last year," Glennon said. "The sky is the limit for him. We've kind of talked about it, us both being seniors. He's real excited about his opportunity."
Originally signed by the Pack in 2008, Palmer failed to qualify and spent two years and Georgia Military College. But his commitment to NC State never wavered – he arrived on campus in 2010 and red-shirted before finally getting his chance to play last year.
It took Palmer longer than he expected to get to NC State, but he made the most of his first season by becoming one of the team's best receivers. He finished second on the team in touchdowns and fourth in receptions while averaging over 13 yards per catch.
Palmer credits T.J. Graham for helping him grow as a receiver last season. G raham entered his senior year as an explosive but inconsistent player, but finished the season as the Pack's leading receiver and was rewarded with a 3rd round selection in the NFL draft.
"T.J. last year, he was a role model," Palmer said. "I tried to look at everything T.J. did and follow right behind him. We just looked after each other last year and we had fun."
Now Palmer will be playing the same role that Graham played for the Pack last year. He'll go into 2012 as the Pack's leading returning receiver, a strange title considering that he spent most of his time at running back before coming to Raleigh.
"This is my second year playing receiver, it's new to me still and I'm trying to engage in it a little more," Palmer said. "I believe my route-running needs to be better than what it was. The speed is there, the quickness is there, the route-running just needs work."
To that end, Palmer spent his summer working out with Glennon – both trying to strengthen their bond on the field and become a better receiver.
"Working over the summer me and Mike tried to develop a stronger chemistry than we had last year, and coming off a breakout year that he had last year," said Palmer. "Me and Mike have gotten better – we know each other's strengths and weakness and we are working on the weaknesses."
As he showed against Clemson, good things can happen when the Pack offense gets the ball in Palmer's hands. But Palmer's individual play wasn't what concerned him most - it was the preseason perception of the wide receiving core. More than Palmer referred to them as ‘one strong group' and insisted that the wideouts are not going to be a weak link for the Pack offense.
"As of right now they are going to talk ‘weak' about us – we are the receivers and they are gonna say we are the weakest part of the offense," he said. "And this year we are going to bring it."