SPRING GAME: 5 To Watch

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here are five Wolfpack players who just might catch your eye in the 2016 Kay Yow Spring Game.

Here are five Wolfpack players who just might catch your eye in the 2016 Kay Yow Spring Game.

Sophomore Quarterback Jalan McClendon
NC State is looking to find the replacement for Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and it appears Jalan McClendon has the inside track. He'll have a chance to show what he can do today.

McClendon, a four-star recruit out of high school who played mop-up duty as a freshman, has impressed Dave Doeren with his play during spring practice.

Jalan McClendon

"He's competitive," said Doeren.  "He has a lot of positive spirit about him. He encourages his teammates. He's hard on himself, but he doesn't let it take away from the way he leads.  He's a lot more vocal. It's just his personality.

"He's just being himself. He hasn't been rattled by anything the defense has done, and it's been fun to watch him grow."

McClendon is confident that he can get the job done.  He expects to be the named the starting quarterback, even though the Wolfpack continues to hold a competition for the position.

"I believe in myself more than anybody else does," he said.  "I'm not saying anything about another quarterback,  but I believe the team believes I can be the quarterback.  Until the coaches announces that's what everybody will find out."

What does Doeren want to see from McClendon in the Kay Yow Spring Game?

"[Him] make the right choices," he said.  "Obviously you'd love to see him throw a bunch of good passes, but more importantly just make the plays he should make all the time. The great plays will come. Just making the smart choices and not trying to do too much because he has the ability."

"From what we've had, stature-wise he's similar to Jacoby," added Doeren.  "When he runs he'll run straight ahead pretty well. He's not a guy who will try to juke a lot of people out.

"He's a quick decision maker, and he has a really live arm. That's what he is. He has a lot of personality."

Freshman Quarterback Jakobi Meyers
Competing with McClendon is dynamic signal-caller Jakobi Meyers, who redshirted in 2015 as a true freshman. 

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Jakobi Meyers

Blessed with a big arm and explosive athleticism, Meyers has also impressed Doeren.

"He can run man," said Doeren.  "He's super athletic which we knew, but he kind of creates plays. He has a great pocket feel. He knows where it's going and how to step up and get outside.

 "He sees the field well."

For Meyers, it will be his first chance to play in front of Wolfpack fans.  How would he describe his game?

"I'm good at just playing, balling out," he said.  "When you see someone else ball you're going to want to ball also... you want to match their energy level."

While the battle is underway, Doeren admits that running with the second-team has probably impacted Meyers to a degree.

"He's probably had more of a challenge than Jalan at times because the second-team offensive line has been pretty beat up and hasn't exactly given him a lot of time to throw at times," said Doeren.  "We all knew he had a great arm when he got here and that hasn't disappointed."

Sophomore Wide Receiver Stephen Louis
Stephen Louis sat out the 2015 season while recovering from an injury, and the redshirt year probably led to a lot of Wolfpack fans forgetting about him.  However, he has generated buzz with his play and will be called on to make plays this season for the Wolfpack.

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Stephen Louis

Louis enrolled at NC State back in the spring of 2014 and along with fellow true freshman Bo Hines was able to work his way into the wide receiver rotation.  He ended up starting two games that season and finished with seven catches and a touchdown grab at Old Dominion.

While sitting out last fall Louis was able to pack weight on his frame and work on his route-running, something he needed to do after playing multiple positions in high school.  Doeren recently mentioned him as one of the Pack's top wideouts this spring.

"Steph Louis and Bra'lon Cherry are probably the two most consistent guys [at receiver]," he said.  

Louis also appears to be building a rapport with fellow sophomore Jalan McClendon.  

"We have a lot, but I'd probably say either Maurice Trowell or Stephen Louis," McClendon replied when asked who at wideout he has the best relationship with.  "Even in the summer, we came out here and threw.  Throwing everyday... on and off the field."

NC State doesn't need Louis to be elite this year (although it would be great), but they need one of the young wideouts to emerge and provide consistency on the perimeter with seniors Bra'lon Cherry and Jumichael Ramos.

Keep an eye on No. 12 this Saturday... we've been hearing good things about him.

Junior Safety Shawn Boone

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Shawn Boone

Most Wolfpack fans probably expected the Wolfpack to depart spring ball with Josh Jones and Germaine Pratt entrenched as the starters at safety, but junior Shawn Boone might have locked down a starting spot this spring at strong safety.

Boone mainly played special teams his first two years on campus, but seems to have used that to his benefit.

"Playing backup roles, you can see a lot and you have to prepare as a starter," said safeties coach Clayton White.  "There's competition back there... it's an open competition right now with all of the safeties."

Boone was rotating between nickelback and safety in the fall before making two starts, including the home matchup against Clemson, at safety.  He battled minor injuries down the stretch, which limited his playing time, but now he's full healthy.

While he hasn't had a chance to show what he can do at the position, it's obvious that Boone has high expectations for himself.

"[I want to be] the best safety that came through NC State," he recently stated.  "I want to get everything I can from NC State and be the best player I know I can be. That's what I've been progressing myself to be.  I push myself everyday to be the best safety."

Boone plays with a hard-hitting, aggressive style that is fun to watch... look for him to make his fair share of plays today.

Junior Linebacker Jerod Fernandez
Lighter should prove to be better for Jerod Fernandez.

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Jerod Fernandez

A two-year starter at linebacker, Fernandez dropped weight during winter conditioning in hopes of becoming faster and more of a playmaker on the field, and all indications are he's been able to maintain his starting job at linebacker.

"I worked hard on my body to try and get in the best shape I could get into," he said.  "It was a focal point for me... just changing my body so I could be faster and more fluid."

Fernandez played in all 13 games last year, totaling 47 tackles and three tackles for a loss, and he feels like an improved player.

"You notice it on film," he said.  "Just getting to the football and how I'm quicker out of breaks in coverage.

"Talking to coach Hux, I needed to become more fluid with my hips and a better player in coverage.  That's what I've worked on." 

Fernandez, who considers himself one of the leaders of the Wolfpack's defense, believes his group has a chance to be really good this season.

"I feel like we can beat those top teams," he said.  "We can beat anybody we play against if we have that mindset."

Look for Fernandez to be all over the field today.

BONUS PICKS
RB Johnny Frasier: Pack fans are anxious to see the highly-regarded redshirt freshman tailback... RB Nyheim Hines: Look for Hines to be a major playmaker at tailback in the spring game... OL Coult Culler: Culler moved from defensive tackle and is competing for a starting job already... OL Garrett Bradbury: He's been one of the top standouts this spring... TE Cole Cook: Mainly a blocker in 2015, Cook has really good hands... WR Maurice Trowell: Can he add vertical speed to the wide receiver group?... TE Pharoah McKever: He has as much potential as anybody on the team... DE Darian Roseboro: True sophomore could be a playmaker for the Wolfpack... DE Bradley ChubbCan he take another step this season? ... LB Riley Nicholson: Is he pushing the starters?... S Josh Jones: He needs to be more consistent... S Dravious Wright: A physical tackler, Wright's motor is always running... S/LB Germaine Pratt: Where will he play?  CB Mike Stevens: He started fast but tailed off last year... needs to be a playmaker.


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