Pack Pride takes a look back at this past weekend's Shrine Bowl and breaks down the top players and how all of the NC State commitments and prospects fared.
The Bottom Line
Headed into Saturday's game most observers considered South Carolina to be a huge underdog. But, as is the case most years in this game, the team that makes the least number of mistakes usually wins and that was the case once again.
While the Tar Heels had the "star power" on their side, South Carolina's defense was the unit that made the most plays. They had two fumble recoveries, three interceptions and eight tackles for loss which paved the way to a 23-19 win.
Best Player on the Field
There were several standouts Saturday but none were better than Havelock's Pharoh Cooper. Splitting time between quarterback and wide receiver, Cooper finished with 11 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 39 yards. He led all players with 253 all-purpose yards. Cooper is quick, elusive and shows very good football instincts. Word has it that he will play defensive back at South Carolina and that would appear to be an appropriate fit given his talent level.
Best College Prospect on the Field
While there were a ton of college prospects on the field, none were better than Clemson commitment Ben Boulware. He was the hardest hitter on the field with instincts that were off the charts. Boulware finished with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, an interception and fumble recovery. It's a safe bet that Boulware is a name NC State fans will become familiar with in the years to come.
Breaking Down NC State's Commitments
Quinton Patterson: Patterson is around 6-0 but solidly built and looked to be in the 220-225 range. He came away with defensive MVP honors for the North Carolina squad after posting six tackles, two tackles for loss and one pass breakup. In all honesty, we believe he had more tackles than he was credited for.
While Larenz Bryant probably has more upside as a college defender, at least on this day, Patterson was much more consistent. His tackling was fundamentally sound, he took good angles and didn't get himself out of position. Patterson is a player that will need time to develop but should be able to contribute down the road.
Patrick Roane: As far as college prospects go, Roane may have the most upside of the NC State commitments in this game. He has the height and the frame to grow into an every down tackle down the road. Roane's foot speed and foot work isn't where it needs to be right now but you cansee that all the pieces are there. As he matures, Roane will only get better.
Cole Blankenship: It was a little surprising to see Blankenship at guard but he did well paired up with Tyrone Crowder on the left side. Blankenship did quite a bit of pulling and moved well. He's able to get leverage because of his build and that frame will likely keep him at center in college. Physically he's somewhat limited but can become a reliable offensive lineman with time.
Jack Tocho: Tocho is a player that we like because of his versatility. He has the size to play free safety but the quickness to land at corner. Tocho showed a good back pedal and does a good job turning his hips. In all honesty he wasn't tested very much in this game so there simply wasn't enough there to come to any conclusions. He did tackle well when he had the opportunity and finished with four tackles.
Artemis Robinson: Robinson alternated with Patterson and was nearly as productive. He too had six tackles. Robinson isn't as thick as Patterson but is a little quicker and probably more athletic. Like Patterson, he ran well to the ball, took good angles and didn't miss any tackles that we noticed. His effort was solid and consistent. There weren't any ‘wow' moments but he got the job done.
Seen Better Days
QB B.J. Beecher camped at State last summer and had a successful senior season but Saturday wasn't one of his better days. The three interceptions he threw were killers for the North Carolina squad. His delivery is slow and that gives DB's way too much time to react to his throws. That cost him against a defense that was a step faster than what he's probably used to.
Greg Gilmore, Nazair Jones and Tyquan Lewis have about 11 stars between them and collectively, they may have had two tackles. They were never a factor in the game and you just expected more from a trio of players with so much hype.
Pack Coming on Strong for Jaylen Miller
DE Jaylen Miller alternated between defensive end and offensive line. He doesn't have prototypical size for defensive end which is probably the only thing that stands between him boasting two dozen offers.
Miller has very quick feet and an explosive takeoff. That served him well when he blocked a NC field goal attempt late in the game. He told Pack Pride that he has made a very good connection with Wolfpack DL coach Ryan Nielsen and plans to visit State during the first weekend of February.