FIVE TO WATCH: Fall Practice

Here is a look at five of NC State's players to watch with preseason camp set to begin Monday morning.

Quarterback Jalan McClendon
Size: 6-5/212 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore

Quick Take: Who is going to be the quarterback?  

That's the question all Wolfpack fans want the answer to, and right now we really don't know.  However, most believe redshirt sophomore Jalan McClendon has the inside track over redshirt freshman Jakobi Meyers and Ryan Finley.

McClendon backed up Jacoby Brissett in 2015, and although he received snaps in seven games, he only attempted 14 passes, completing eight.  

"Jalan redshirted, sat behind Jacoby and learned, last year played some games for us," said Dave Doeren.  "He was ready to play in every game. So I know he's chomping at the bit. I'm sure he feels like he's waited his turn."

It sounds like McClendon has already taken a leadership role, which is critical with the team looking to replace Brissett.

"Jalan McClendon has taken a step forward," said Director of Strength and Conditioning Dantonio Burnette.  "It's crazy. When Jacoby Brissett was here, he was almost okay with just sitting back and letting Jacoby do his thing. But, as we got to the end of the year, the end of the season we started pushing Jalan forward... him and Jakobi [Meyers].  We told Jalan, 'You need to step up, you're going to be the next leader here.'

"He's taken it to a whole another level. He organizes a lot of stuff that they do together as a team. It's amazing just to see him step forward. He tells the offensive linemen to get up front. That's amazing."

NC State needs to answer that big question, and Jalan McClendon will get his chance to prove he is the answer.

Tight End Pharoah McKever
Size: 6-6/260 | Class: Redshirt Junior

Quick Take: Pharoah McKever McKever enrolled as a wide receiver, moved to defensive end, and has now grown into a 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end.

"I really like Pharaoh a lot and he's got a great skill set as a receiver in there," said Doeren.  "He's worked hard. Coach Faulkner is a really good coach, our tight ends coach.

"Pharaoh had a tough spring. I think learning, for him, was hard, because he flipped over in the bowl season, had to learn that offense, and then we got a new guy to learn another offense and he was on defense. The guy's been a part of three systems in twelve months, you know what I mean? I hope that the summer cleared things up for him and he'll be able to play a lot faster."

The bright side is McKever has shown he can make big plays with the ball in his hands.  He's touched the football twice in college, and both touches resulted in 82-yard touchdowns: an interception return against Syracuse in 2014, and a catch and run in the bowl game in 2015 against Mississippi State.

NC State returns Jaylen Samuels and Cole Cook at tight end and freshman Thaddeus Moss could also receive reps.  However, the Wolfpack must replace Benson Browne and David Grinnage so McKever could get an opportunity to impact.

"I do want to get him involved, but he's got to earn it," added Doeren.  "We've got to be able to trust that he's going to do the right things out there. He knows that. I'm hopeful that in fall camp, he'll be able to showcase some of those things to us."

Wide Receiver Stephen Louis
Size: 6-2/215 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore

Quick Take: NC State suffered a big hit this summer when it was announced that senior JuMichael Ramos would miss the 2016 season with a knee injury. The Pack's top returning wideout, State is looking for someone to step up outside to replace Ramos, and it looks like that guy will be Stephen Louis.

Louis redshirted in 2015 while recovering from shoulder surgery after playing as a true freshman in 2014.  He turned heads with his play in the spring and his work ethic in the weight room.

"If you look at how we're going to recover [the Ramos loss], Steph Louis redshirted a year ago because he had a shoulder," said Doeren.  "Steph now kind of swaps spots with him. Steph had a great spring. They played the same position. So you're kind of taking one guy who is now a redshirt sophomore, one of our probably better leaders in that room, to replace Jumichael."

"Steph is one of the hardest working guys on our team," added Burnette.  "He puts in so much extra work and is a driven guy. He was out last season because of shoulder surgery, and he is hungry.  Like I said, he's very driven.  He's now bigger, faster, and stronger.

"The thing about Steph is guys on both sides of the ball highly respect him because of his work ethic.  I believe they also feel like he's going to have a big year for us because he brings it everyday.  He works hard and gives you everything he has.  That is a testament to his character and work ethic.  Steph is another one of our leaders in here."

Defensive End Bradley Chubb
Size: 6-4/280 | Class: Junior

Quick Take: Speaking of expectations, they are through the roof for junior defensive end Bradley Chubb.  All he did in his first season at defensive end was lead ACC defensive linemen in tackles (69) while also registering 11 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks.

"He's going to be a stud this year," Doeren said of Chubb at the ACC Football Kickoff.

Chubb, who played linebacker as a freshman before moving to defensive end in the spring of 2015, is just scratching the surface as he continues to grow physically and at the defensive end position.

'When he came in, he was a 247-pound linebacker," added Burnette.  "Then within one year Chubb is 265 pounds, so we knew he was going to keep growing and that we would need to move him to defensive end.

"It's one of the best decisions that we've made. Now he went from 265 to 280. He's much faster... he recently was laser-timed at 4.68 in the 40.  His vertical went up, broad jump went up. Now he's in the position where we want him to be."

How high on Chubb is NC State?  He was given Mario Williams' No. 9 jersey in the spring.  If he can take the next step and develop into a dynamic pass-rusher, the Wolfpack defensive will be even more dangerous.

Safety Josh Jones
Size: 6-2/215 | Class: Redshirt Junior

Quick Take: While he was fairly productive, safety Josh Jones probably didn't have the season he expected in 2015.  He struggled at times in pass coverage and missed assignments.  However, all indications are he had a great spring and is critical to the Wolfpack's defensive success.

Athletically, he's a freak.  Jones, who measures 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, was recently laser-timed at 4.27 and 4.33 in the 40-yard dash.  He has the team's best 10-yard split (1.40), a 39.8-inch vertical, and a 4.04 shuttle.

"I think he's going to take it to the next level," said Burnette.  "Like with [Kentavius] Street, it's about translating his athleticism and explosiveness over to the field, and I believe you're going to see that.  This spring, Josh took a huge jump. He's playing with more confidence.  With him, I think it all goes back to his confidence.

"Last year if Josh didn't do well on a play sometimes he would think about it. He's the type of kid that if he messes up, he feels like how can I tell someone else to do something if I'm messing up. I told him you're going to make mistakes in a game, no one is perfect, but the thing is make the mistake and keep moving forward.

"The great ones are able to do that. I saw him take a big step in doing that this spring and then this summer. He killed every run. He was often my demo guy on all the speed stuff and he's out here leading. That show his confidence has grown, and he is maturing."

A big year for Josh Jones could mean a special year for NC State.


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