Experience Shining In Spring Practice
NC State is just days away from the 2017 Kay Yow Spring Game, and Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren seems pleased with what he's seen from his group during spring practice.
"I really like the way that they're practicing," said Doeren. "When I say that, the way they're working together. You can get really competitive when it's your brothers going against each other. Sometimes that turns into things that don't get you better. I think they're pushing each other, but they're playing smart. They're keeping each other safe, but it's competitive.
"The enthusiasm and the passion for getting better and playing the game, as a coach, is what it's all about. I'm not having to talk about that right now. The players are doing a great job of that."
Surely that comes from experience, and this year's team is loaded with quality experience. It was certainly obvious on Tuesday when the Wolfpack released the 2017 Leadership Council that is littered with multi-year members.
"They've been hearing the same messaging for a long time," added Doeren. "For them to be able to sit in there, the whole thing for us is ownership. We want the players to own the process, and own the team. Not that the coaches don't lead it. We do, but we're not around them all the time. They've got to be able to carry it on. The minutes, the hours that we're not here. Hold each other accountable. That to me, is how you build the chemistry that you want on your football team."
Pro Day A Success
NC State held its annual Pro Day on Monday, and every NFL team was represented. Wolfpack players participating included:Bra'lon Cherry, Niles Clark, Matthew Dayes, Clark Eyers, Connor Haskins, Josh Jones, Monty Nelson, Joseph Scelfo, Josh Sessoms, Jack Tocho, John Tu'uta, and Dravious Wright.
Doeren seemed to indicate the group represented the Wolfpack well.
"It was outstanding," he stated. "First of all, I thought it was really well organized. Coach Kitchings and Coach Thunder, doing a good job with that. We had almost every team, if not every team here, so it was great representation from the NFL. I thought our players did a nice job.
"I don't have the times. They don't give them all to us. Watching it, it looked like in different segments, different guys really jumped out. I know Braylon ran well. You can hear a lot of guys talking about his 40 time. In the drill work, Matt Dayes really shined. Tocho ran well. You can see that. I thought Dravious did some really good things. There are so many of those guys, and they all look at it differently. It's hard to say what they thought of it."
One player who helped himself at the NFL combine and looked to build on it at Pro Day was redshirt junior Josh Jones. Jones may have surprised some folks when he declared early for the draft, but he's started to generate a buzz due to his impressive athleticism.
"He proved what people thought he would be," Doeren said of Jones. "He's a big, really athletic guy. The questions people have on him are the same ones that they had before he went into it. Just, is he ready? He believes he is. That's his job now, is to show all these guys in the interviews and drill work that he is. Then take advantage of the opportunity, but he's done everything he can do physically, at this point."
"The thing that's fun about the two guys is, they really help each other," said Doeren. "They know they need each other. Neither one of them has jumped out so far where you say, 'Hey, you're only going to play unless this guy gets hurt.' They both have a role for us, and they both help us. They both bring different dimensions to the game. They play hard for each other, they play hard for their team mates. We're going to need them both."
One player no longer competing with the duo is redshirt sophomore Jakobi Meyers. He switched from No. 16 to No. 11 in the spring and is now listed at wide receiver, as he is no longer seeing reps at quarterback. Meyers played wideout sparingly in the fall, totaling 13 catches for 158 yards while flashing his upside.
"The guy has such a good skill set there," Doeren said of Meyers. "He was thrown into the fire with no technique in the fall. It's been good to see him go through individual every day, and progress. He's a natural route runner. He understands how to turn steps and he can make tough catches."
NC State held a scrimmage on Friday. What did Doeren think of the play from his team?
"It was good," he said. "First half, we did some situational stuff. Just some red zone skill and two-minute drills. We got into moving the ball, and red zone team. It was back and forth. Defensively, they did a good job taking the ball away. We had a couple interceptions. One in two-minute, which was a real nice play.
"Offense bounced back which, I don't like when one side of the ball dominates the day, as the head coach. I like to see the fire get back on the other side. Those guys handled the adversity. That's what it was like Friday, so that was good."
Last year NC State was able to redshirt the majority of the 2016 recruiting class and added several quality newcomers in January. So far, it sounds like a few of those young talents have impressed Doeren.
"Brock Miller has flashed, the linebacker," said Doeren. "[He and] Germaine Pratt, both of those guys we expected them both to. Xavier Lyas who's the newcomer... you can really see his ability to run, and he's tough. Damien Darden and Dylan Autenrieth, two of the tight ends, are getting a lot of reps... doing some good things for us. Daeshawn Stephens made a couple nice catches Friday in the deal. There's probably more that I'm missing, but those guys jumped out to me."