NOTEBOOK: Pack In Pads

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here is a collection of notes on Wolfpack football following the first fall practice in pads.

Some Freshmen Will Play
Dave Doeren came in and made it a point to really target skill position players to finalize his first class at NC State, and it sounds like he's landed a group that has the talent to play right away.

The Wolfpack inked five freshmen wideouts and a sophomore transfer, Travares Copeland, and they are turning heads with their play.

"I'm very excited about their skillset," Doeren said of the freshmen wide receivers. "You talk about Marquez Valdes, #1, he had two touchdowns today. JuMichael Ramos had a great day yesterday, and Johnathan Alston has been steady the whole camp.

"Bra'lon Cherry had a really good spring. He's struggling a little bit right now, and we have to get him over the hump. But, those four freshmen will all play for us. We're excited about the youth.

"Copeland is only a second-year player and until today had been having a really good camp. He had to sit out with a hamstring injury today."

The Wolfpack also signed five defensive backs, and Doeren seems just as high on them.

"The defensive backs, I thought we signed a very good class in the secondary," he stated. "Sean Paul had a tremendous interception yesterday, and Dravious Wright had some nice open field plays today. Josh Jones, a safety, and Malcolm Means, have done some nice things in camp. Jack Tocho is maybe the most impressive of all five.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see three or four of those guys playing on special teams or even more."

"On the defensive line, Kenton Gibbs has played really well at camp so far," he added. "We feel like there is 11 or 12 guys that will battle through camp and maybe get some playing time."

Quarterbacks Continue To Battle
According to Doeren, the quarterbacks were much better today, and it appears to be a two-man battle for the job right now.

"Today both Pete [Thomas] and Brandon [Mitchell] played better," he said. "Yesterday, maybe Pete played better than Brandon, but today they both made a lot of plays.

"The first three days I think the whole team struggled a little bit with the heat, final exams we were going through, we were installing some plays, but today it seemed like we settled down a little bit at quarterback and both of them made some nice plays."

Doeren acknowledges that he feels much better about the position than he did coming out of the spring.

"I didn't even know Brandon could throw a week ago, I hadn't seen him play yet," said Doeren, laughing. "I feel for the kid because he's trying to win a job and learn an offense. He's doing a lot in a short period of time, but he knows what he signed up for.

"Pete's not going to give it to him.... he's fighting his butt off to keep the job. Right now there is healthy competition, and Manny has got better with the snaps he's gotten.

"We're a much better position group right now than we were practice #15 when we finished the spring."

Parting Shots
Doeren says through the first few practices his team has remained relatively healthy.

"We had five guys out at practice today and there will probably be a couple more," he stated. "It's good. There have been some bruises and bumps and sprains, but knock on wood so far so good... we haven't lost anybody."

  • With the recent issues nationally regarding autographs and college players potentially being paid for signatures, Doeren feels the Wolfpack's compliance has done a great job of educating the football staff and they all are monitoring the players, "as closely as we can," he said. "I think that NC State, just in general, does a very nice job with compliance department as far as educating our coaches.

    "Our coaches spend a lot of time talking to our guys, and we actually use other programs to try and learn from. You can't hide from it. You try to use it as much as you can and do as much as you can to hope our guys can learn from that."

  • Even though today was the first day in pads, the Wolfpack didn't do any live tackling, something they will do on Thursday.

    "We'll be in pads again and actually tackle so that will be fun to watch," said Doeren. "Today was to get used to being in full gear and tomorrow we'll be in thud for most of practice and maybe five periods will be live tackling."

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