ANALYSIS: How Young Is The Wolfpack?

How Dave Doeren and his staff are working to restock the roster.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- New coaches usually take over because the previous head coach didn't win enough games to maintain his job. However, what they inherit, from a roster standpoint, often impacts how quickly they start winning games.

Dave Doeren pointed out after Saturday's loss to Boston College that he is still looking to add depth to his program, and it's going to take time to develop the roster the way he hopes to have it.

"I just didn't inherit a cabinet stocked with redshirt seniors," said Doeren. "So, I'm going to build it with good players. We just have to teach them to have better technique, get off blocks and tackle.

How bad did the roster lack star power? Over the last two years, not a single Wolfpack player has been named preseason All-ACC by the media.

"Two years in a row I haven't had an ACC player on the preseason list," said Doeren. "It's going to take me time. At Kansas we had a bunch of freshmen playing on defense and four years later our defense was No. 1 in the nation."

Tom O'Brien's staff certainly won more games than NC State is winning right now, and they were going to bowl games... they did the season O'Brien was fired by Wolfpack AD Debbie Yow. However, Yow indicated that she believed a change was needed, in part, due to the inconsistent recruiting results under O'Brien.

"I have a great deal of respect for people who are aggressive, assertive recruiters," she said at the time. "I believe in this day and age, it is required."

Is O'Brien's recruiting approach catching up with Doeren?

We're going to look at NC State's recruiting classes from 2010-2012, O'Brien's final three full classes and a group that "should" be the heart of the current program.

NC State's 2010 recruiting class consisted of 22 signees. Of this group, only redshirt seniors would still be at NC State.

Art Norman 1st String - DE
Thomas Teal 1st String - DT
Robert Crisp 1st String - LT
Anthony Creecy 1st String - RB
Tyson Chandler 1st String - RT
Andy Jomantas 2nd String - LT
Bryan Underwood 1st String – WR
David Amerson Left Early For NFL (2012)
Deion Roberson Enrolled – Medical Hardship
A.J. Ferguson Eligibility Expired
Dontae Johnson Eligibility Expired
D.J. Green Eligibility Expired
Mikel Overgaard Graduated Prior to 2013
Tobais Palmer Graduated Prior to 2013
Theodore Rich Transfer Prior to 2013
Tyler Brosius Transfer Prior to 2013
Mustafa Greene Dismissed Prior to 2013
Torian Box Dismissed Prior to 2013
Logan Winkles Dismissed
Peter Singer Never Enrolled Prior to 2013
Raynard Randolph Never Enrolled Prior to 2013
Billy Bennett Never Enrolled Prior to 2013

In 2014 there are still seven players contributing to the program as redshirt seniors, and doing so at a high level. Five of those are in the trenches, four starters and a reserve.

It's not a lot, and certainly not what Boston College has (as you'll see below), but there are contributors. Three members of this class (Green, Johnson, and Ferguson) expired their eligibility in Doeren's first season, and one of them (Winkles) was dismissed by Doeren.

What else stands out about this class is the attrition. Eight of the 22 signees either transferred out, were dismissed, or never enrolled.


NC State's 2011 recruiting class consisted of 20 signees. The current squad would have seniors and redshirt juniors from this class.

Alex Barr 1st String - RG
Benson Browne 1st String - TE
Juston Burris 1st String - CB
Mike Rose 1st String - DE
Hakim Jones 1st String - FS
Niklas Sade 1st String - Kicker
Joseph Thuney 1st String - LG
Scott Thompson 1st String - LS
Wil Baumann 1st String - Punter
Rodman Noel 1st String - WLB
Ty McGill 2nd String - DT
Brandon Pittman 2nd String - WLB
Maurice Morgan Backup WR
McKay Frandsen Graduated Prior to 2013
Carlos Gray Left early for NFL
Brian Taylor Left team
Dave Mann Transfer
Hakeem Flowers Transfer
Michael Peek Transfer
Tyrrell Burriss Transfer

Of O'Brien's final three classes, this group had the least amount of signees (20) but has the most remaining contributors on the roster. 13 of the 20 signees are still on the team, and 10 of those are starters/co-starters with two others serving as two-deep backups.

That's certainly a positive, but if there is a concern it is that, from a rankings standpoint, this was one of the lowest-rated classes signed by NC State in recent memory. According to's 2011 recruiting rankings, NC State finished last in the ACC and No. 75 overall in the country.

The class included the Wolfpack's three specialists (who were the highest-ranked recruits in the class), three starters on offense, and four more on defense.


This is where things really get shaky for Doeren and the Wolfpack.

David Grinnage 2nd String - TE
Shadrach Thornton 2nd OR 3rd String - RB
Niles Clark 2nd String - CB
John Tu'uta 2nd String - Center
Drew Davis 2nd String - DE
Bryce Kennedy 2nd String - LG
Josh Sessoms Backup - S
M.J. Salahuddin Injured
Deylan Buntyn Eligibility Expired
Robert Caldwell Eligibility Expired
Joe Wright Dismissed
Jarnor Jones Dismissed/Transfer
Marchez Coates Dismissed/Transfer
Charlie Hegedus Transfer
Eddie Gordon Transfer
Kenderius Whitehead Transfer
K'Hadree Hooker Transfer
Manny Stocker Transfer
Quincy McKinney Transfer
Pete Thomas Transfer
Desmond Owino Never Enrolled
Tyler Knox Never Enrolled
Xavier Griffin Never Enrolled

Tom O'Brien's final "full" recruiting class, the attrition has been brutal. We're talking about players who enrolled three years ago... the team's true juniors and redshirt sophomores, players with upside left to develop and at least a couple of seasons of eligibility remaining.

Just eight of the 23 signees are even still on the roster after one of them, defensive end Joe Wright, was recently dismissed from the team.

Of those eight, none are listed as a starter on the two-deep depth chart. Tailback Shadrach Thornton is the team's top rusher, and David J. Grinnage is a quality contributor. Also, junior linebacker M.J. Salahuddin would be starting at middle linebacker, but he's out for the season with a knee injury. Clark, Tu'uta, Davis, Kennedy, and Sessoms are all reserves, but only Davis receives consistent playing time.


Here is a closer look at how Tom O'Brien's final three classes compare with each other and impact the current NC State roster.

Class Total Signees Class Recruiting Rank Current Class # On 2014 Roster 2014 Starters 2014 2-Deep Reserves
2010 22 No. 48
(9/12 ACC)
RS Seniors 7 6 1
2011 20 No. 75
(12/12 ACC)
RS Juniors
13 10 2
2012 23 No. 61
(9/12 ACC)
RS Sophomores
8 0 6

There are some major contributors from O'Brien's final three classes, but the overall quantity is low. Just 28 of NC State's 85 scholarship players are occupied by players from those three classes, showcasing the lack of overall experience within the program.

However, 16 of the team's 25 starters (including the three specialists) are from those classes. Overall, the three classes ranked No. 45, No. 75, and No. 61 in's final recruiting rankings.


Next we're going to compare those three classes to two of NC State's conference foes: Boston College and Duke... the Eagles because Steve Addazio is in his second year as head coach, like Doeren, and the Blue Devils because David Cutcliffe has had plenty of time to build his roster.

We'll start with Boston College. What type of a roster, from an experience standpoint, is Steve Addazio working with in comparison to Doeren?

Class Total Signees Class Recruiting Rank Current Class # On 2014 Roster 2014 Starters 2014 2-Deep Reserves
2010 21 No. 44
(8/12 ACC)
RS Seniors 11 8 3
2011 23 No. 35
(5/12 ACC)
RS Juniors
10 7 2
2012 17 No. 71
(11/12 ACC)
RS Sophomores
14 6 8

As you can see, 35 of Boston College's 85 possible scholarships and 20 of their 25 starters arrived in those three classes.

What stands out about Boston College is their experience in the trenches. Nine of the 10 offensive linemen on the two-deep are redshirt juniors or seniors, and three of the four starting defensive linemen are as well.

Overall, nine of 11 starters on offense and nine of 11 starters on defense are redshirt juniors or seniors.

Also, look at how many players they've retained from the 2012 recruiting class. Steve Addazio still has 14 of the 17 signees from Frank Spaziani's last class within the program while Dave Doeren has only been able to keep eight of the Wolfpack's 23 2012 signees on the roster.

That experienced depth is critical in practice, on special teams, and on both sides of the football.

Next we're going to take a look at David Cutcliffe's Duke Blue Devils. The seventh-year head coach has been given time to build his program after starting his tenure like this: 4-8 (1-7), 5-7 (3-5), 3-9 (1-7), and 3-9 (1-7).

Cutcliffe's 2010 recruiting class was actually his third, and the Blue Devils were coming off a 5-7 season.

ClassTotal Signees Class Recruiting Rank Current Class # On 2014 Roster 2014 Starters 2014 2-Deep Reserves
2010 20 No. 71
(12/12 ACC)
RS Seniors 11 7 2
2011 20 No. 63
(10/12 ACC)
RS Juniors
13 7 6
2012 20 No. 63
(10/12 ACC)
RS Sophomores
19 5 13

Duke is the lone program of the three to show upward attrition, and that's to be expected given they didn't undergo a coaching change. Duke has 11, 13, and 19 players remaining from the three classes.

14 of their 25 starters are currently redshirt juniors and seniors, and that's not a high number, however, look at the depth from their 2012 recruiting class. Coach Cutcliffe still has 19 of the 20 signees associated with the program, and five of those are starters with another 13 serving as reserves.

Compare that to NC State. 2012 was Tom O'Brien's final class, and as shown above, just eight of his 23 2012 signees are still on the roster.

Again, that experienced depth (those players are in year three within the program) is critical on special teams and substitutions, and especially for Duke, as they haven't sustained a coaching change like at NC State or Boston College, where new coaches have arrived and implemented new coaching schemes.


As Dave Doeren has indicated, NC State is a young team and it doesn't show as much in the starting lineup, but the overall depth within the program. Let's look at the Wolfpack when you factor in the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes... the team's freshmen and true sophomores.

Class Total Signees Class Recruiting Rank Current Class # On 2014 Roster 2014 Starters 2014 2-Deep Reserves
2010 22 No. 48
(9/12 ACC)
RS Seniors 7 6 1
2011 20 No. 75
(12/12 ACC)
RS Juniors
13 10 2
2012 23 No. 61
(9/12 ACC)
RS Sophomores
8 0 6
2013 25 No. 54
(9/14 ACC)
RS Freshmen
22 6 7
2014 30 No. 26
(3/14 ACC)
True Freshmen 27 2 10

Coach Doeren's first two classes make up the majority of the Wolfpack's roster and this is where the Pack's depth is currently coming from. Eight starters are from his first two classes (not including Jacoby Brissett) and 17 other freshmen and true sophomores are on the Wolfpack's two-deep depth chart in some capacity.

Now compare the contributions NC State's receiving from the 2013 and 2014 classes to those at Boston College and Duke.

Class Total Signees Class Recruiting Rank Current Class # On 2014 Roster 2014 Starters 2014 2-Deep Reserves
2013 (NCSU) 25 No. 54
(9/14 ACC)
RS Freshmen
21 6 7
2014 (NCSU) 30 No. 26
(3/14 ACC)
True Freshmen 27 2 10
2013 (BC) 15 No. 92
(14/14 ACC)
RS Freshmen
11 3 4
2014 (BC) 26 No. 57
(12/14 ACC)
True Freshmen 25 1 8
2013 (Duke) 20 No. 70
(11/14 ACC)
RS Freshmen
20 4 8
2014 (Duke) 18 No. 67
(14/14 ACC)
True Freshmen 18 0 3

NC State has as many starters in the two classes (8) as Duke and Boston College have combined (8). The Wolfpack's also relying on another 17 who are on the 2-deep, to 20 total for Duke and Boston College.

As expected, Duke doesn't have to rely on their true freshmen, and shouldn't given Cutcliffe's had time to build his roster and bring in/develop talent. The Blue Devils have just three true freshmen listed on the two-deep.

Also, look at Duke's retention. Over the last two classes, all 38 signees are on Duke's official roster, compared to 48-of-55 for NC State and 36-of-41 for Boston College.

The good news for NC State is the 2014 recruiting class was one of the program's best in recent memory, and the Wolfpack coaching staff has continued that success on the recruiting trail with the 2015 class.

Doeren is right. He didn't inherit a lot of experience and the last class that Tom O'Brien signed... well there isn't much of it left at all. Doeren and his staff are going to have to coach, and recruit, their way out of this hole.

"We're going to do it the right way," he said. "I'm going to keep my head up, work my butt off, and stay positive with my football team. We have a lot of games in front of us."

His success will be determined by how much more talent he can bring to Raleigh, and how well can he develop that young talent.

NOTE: Class rankings and signees were calculated from's Recruiting Rankings and players considered hailed from those classes. Walk-ons (that we could track) were not included since they don't sign letter of intents.

Also, Will Vasaly contributed to this report.

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