Best NC State Class In Scout Era? 2003

Pack Pride takes a look at NC State's best recruiting class in the era, and that would be the 2003 haul that included the ACC's first No. 1 draft pick, Mario Williams.

There are numerous ways to judge recruiting classes when reviewing them several years later.

How many games did the signed class win or lose? How many of its players were all-conference picks or All-American selections? How many were drafted? You get the point.

With signing day right around the corner, we’ll take this opportunity to concentrate on the best recruiting class that NC State has signed during the era... the 2003 recruiting class, and it’s not close.

In 2003, Chuck Amato signed the nation’s ninth-best class (tied with Texas A&M) nationally and the top haul in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The next best class inked by NC State during that era came the following year when Amato inked the No. 20 overall class in 2004.

The class of 2003 was Amato’s third full class signed in Raleigh and not so coincidentally came during a season full of hype and results. Behind quarterback Philip Rivers, who was a junior, the Pack went 11-3 including a season-ending win in the Gator Bowl against ("America’s Sweethearts" ... Thank you Sean Burton) Notre Dame (28-6) and along the way garnered a top 10 national ranking.

Coach Amato and his staff capitalized well on their on-field success by signing 28 players with several ranked in the top 30 nationally at their respective positions. The headliner of the class was, of course Mario Williams, who went on to become the No. 1 NFL draft pick in 2006, but there are some other memorable names below that Wolfpack fans will certainly recall.

1. Mario Williams Richlands (NC) **** No. 4 DE (No. 27 Nationally)
2. Darrell Blackman Williamsport (PA) **** No. 19 RB (No. 88 Nationally)
3. Derek Morris North Meck (NC) ***** No. 6 OL (No. 32 Nationally)
4. Jimmy Sutton III Boca Raton (FL) *** No. 40 WR
5. Marcus Stone Bishop McDevitt (PA) *** No. 33 QB
6. Jamesly Jean Jefferson (FL) *** No. 18 TE
7. Tank Tyler EE Smith (NC) *** No. 29 DT
8. Miguel Scott Killian (FL) *** No. 20 S

The group above includes the eight prospects who NC State seemed to fight the hardest to land in this recruiting class. Mario was one of the most-coveted players in the country, and the same could be said for every player in this group.

Below is the rest of the class, listed in order by positional ranking.

9. Kennie Covington Jones Co. CC *** No. 16 DE
10. Ernest Jones Southern Vance (NC) *** No. 28 LB
11. Lamart Barrett Avon Farm Prep (CT) *** No. 29 WR
12. Raymond Brooks Williamsport (PA) *** No. 34 DE
13. Lerue Rumph Central Catholic (FL) *** No. 37 S
14. Chad Green Northern Nash (NC) *** No. 40 DE
15. Brian Dennison Mandarin (FL) *** No. 40 RB
16. James Martin Ely (FL) *** No. 41 LB
17. Chris Hawkins Southern Vance (NC) *** No. 41 QB
18. Luke Lathan Clay (FL) *** No. 55 OL
19. Garland Heath Glades Central (FL) *** No. 61 S
20. Reggie Davis Godby (FL) *** No. 68 RB
21. Shane Lucas Hargrave (VA) *** No. 75 DT
22. Maurice Charles Carol City (FL) ** No. 119 DE
23. Stephen Tulloch Killian (FL) ** No. 119 LB
24. Phillip Holloman Lake Taylor (VA) ** No. 147 CB
25. Yomi Ojo Southeast Raleigh (NC) ** No. 159 OL
26. Kalani Heppe Liberty (VA) ** No. 200 OL
27. Guerlin Dervil Ed. White (FL) ** No. 253 LB
28. Martrel Brown Purnell Swett (NC) ** No. 387 LB

Of this class, four were NFL draft picks and spent time in the NFL (Mario Williams, Tank Tyler, Stephen Tulloch and Miguel Scott).

Two transferred out of the program (Shane Lucas and Chris Hawkins), two never enrolled (Chad Green and Brian Dennison), two were eventually dismissed from the team for violating team rules (Ray Brooks and Mo Charles), Covington was an eventual academic casualty, and four were minor on-field contributors.

However, 17 of them played a good number of snaps and were major contributors throughout their careers.

The on-field results of the players in the 2003 class are, like pretty much all classes, a mixed bag. You can look across the board and see busts, underrated gems, and a myriad of solid, steady role players. The 2003 class does serve as a healthy reminder to the star-lovers out there that one class does not make a team and that the transition from recruiting ranking to wins is not exactly 1-to-1.

Over a decade later State has signed some classes that rival the class of 2003 in production and eventual NFL standouts, but none have been able to touch this group when it comes to star-power.

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