NC State's Current Situation at Running Back: NC State returns three running backs from last season in superstar junior T.A. McLendon, sophomore Reggie Davis, and senior Josh Brown. All three have experience playing tailback and provide stability at the position.
McLendon undoubtedly enters the 2004 season as the starter, returning from an injury-riddled sophomore campaign. A healthy T.A. is arguably the top running back in the Atlantic Coast Conference and one of the premier backs in the nation. With the additions of signees Darrell Blackman and Andre Brown, NC State could have one of the finest backfields in college football.
Darrell Blackman Player Evaluation: Blackman has been dominant on every level that he's played, and his prep season at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia was no exception. The Williamsport (PA) standout originially signed with NC State in 2003 but failed to qualify academically, forcing him to prep at the Military school. In a backfield that also featured running backs committed to Georgia and Maryland respectively, Blackman was the best.
Darrell has great speed (4.44 40) and natural instincts for a running back. He has uncanny vision to spot holes and above-average cutback ability. He runs with a nice body lean to always gain yardage and at 6'0 200 pounds runs between the tackles equally as well as on the edge. He has good hands and is a solid pass-catcher. Blackman gives NC State a "home-run hitter" at tailback, having the ability to score anytime he touches the football. However, his most important trait could be the leadership qualities which he possesses. Darrell has an engaging personality and players love to play with him. He will be a great teammate in Raleigh and has an outstanding future at NC State.
Blackman Senior Season Stats: Over 2,400 yards and 22 TDs as a senior at Williamsport High School. Finished his career with over 6,500 yards and 70 touchdowns.
What his coach said: "He's awesome. One of the best running backs I have seen and he will be a great player for N.C. State." -- Hargrave Military Academy Head Coach Robert Prunty
Film Session -- Darrell Blackman: Video 1
Andre Brown Player Evaluation: The top back in North Carolina this season, Brown had an amazing senior year, setting a state single-season rushing mark while playing in it's highest classification. Arguably the state's top player, Andre is an impact player at the running back position.
At 6'1 215, Brown is a big back who loves contact. However, he's also very fast (4.47 40) and can break the big run like Darrell Blackman. A natural tailback, Andre's got good vision and excellent acceleration through the holes. He's shifty and has great agility. He's physical, very strong, and can gain the yards in short-yardage situations. He has outstanding balance (similar to McLendon) and quick feet. A receiver early in his high school career, Brown has above-average receiving skills and will flourish in NC State's offensive system. Grades are a concern right now and he may have to prep, but when Andre Brown matriculates to Raleigh he will enter as an impact player for the Wolfpack.
Brown Senior Season Stats: 3,478 yards (North Carolina single-season record) and 46 touchdowns
What his coach said: "Oh I tell you, from an offensive standpoint, you just have to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. You know sooner or later, good things are going to happen." -- Greenville (NC) Rose Head Coach Greg Thomas
Running Back Position Grade/Analysis: (A) -- NC State entered the recruiting season needing to land at least two tailbacks and they accomplished that feat with the additions of Blackman and Brown. The Wolfpack did miss on some major targets in George Bell and Antwain Carey, but most analysts feel the two signees are the best of the bunch.
Adding two consensus top-10 backs in one recruiting class is a major feat. Both prospects are outstanding talents, but more importantly have character and leadership traits that teams want in star players. Each should have successful careers at NC State and could form a lethal combination at running back for the Wolfpack!
Andre Brown Rushes for 270 yards in State Championship Game