StateFans Roundtable Discussion

From time to time the StateFans staff will entertain questions from our subscribers in a roundtable discussion. Occasionally we'll have our regional recruiting analysts drop by to share their input.

If you had to choose a top seven list that are most likely to sign with NC State come February, who would they be? (Danmcb)

James Henderson- Toney Baker, Julian Williams, Montario Hardesty, Curtis Crouch, Jon Hannah, Guesley Dervil and Everette Brown.

I'm sure that list will change throughout the season, but it's safe to say that I think NC State's going to have a very nice in-state haul. Dervil's a guess at the moment because I'm not sure if he has a firm NC State offer, but a great senior season could be all it takes to lock him up. He's a very good prospect from what I've heard.

Steve Williams- This is always the toughest question because if you asked next week, the list could look completely different. However, based on what we know today, I feel really good with the following- Toney Baker, JC Neal, Julian Williams, Curtis Crouch, Montario Hardesty, Jonathan Hannah and Cameron Sexton (should we offer).

Is it completely out of the question to take four guys from Plantation High ? (52 fan)

Defensive Tackle Jeffrey Owens is the only Plantation (Fl.) star with a firm NC State offer.

James Henderson- Is it out of the question? No, because I think Cedric McGhee, Dennis Campbell, and Antwan Strong would jump at scholarship offers from NC State. Do I think the Wolfpack will take all four? At this point I'd be surprised if they landed more than one of the Plantation stars. NC State's low on scholarships again this year and they will be careful with extending offers. Plus, all four may not be high level Division-1 caliber prospects.

Steve Williams- I wouldn't say it's out of the question but I think it highly unlikely. DT Jeffrey Owens is apparently the only player with a Pack offer right now although WR Cedric McGee and DB Dennis Campbell are certainly capable of earning a ship at some point. I'd keep an eye out for the Plantation QB as well.

Do you feel that with many non-Florida coaches there is a trend to evaluate Florida kids higher just because they are from Florida? Do you think programs like ours who concentrate their efforts on Florida heavily, miss out on kids in their own backyard who may be as good or better? (JPwolf73)

James Henderson- I think coaches target the best players wherever they reside... it just so happens that given our ties to Florida we recruit that area heavily. If anything, I think at times some Florida players are still very underrated given the amount of talent in the region. Would a top 100 kid in Florida receive the same amount of recognition as a top 15 player from North Carolina? Personally, I don't think so.

Steve Williams- The thing most people forget is that football is nearly a year round sport in Florida. They're able to practice in the spring and participate in jamboree games. They then continue with voluntary workouts during the summer leading right up to the beginning of football practice. Beyond that, the numbers don't lie. Florida ranks only behind California and Texas in the number of division one prospects their respective states produce.

As for State missing out on kids in NC- certainly it's always possible a great player could go unnoticed but I don't believe that would have been a result of spending too much time in Florida. Most fans fail to realize how important it is for high school coaches to get the word out about their players. There are literally thousands of high school football players in the senior class in NC each year and it's impossible for college coaches to know who all the great players are. They have to rely on high school coaches sending in film and making them aware. If the high school coaches fail to do this or the player never attends any combines or camps- odds are they'll go unnoticed unless they happen to play in a game that our coaches are scouting while watching a player from another team.

Early commitments vs late commitments: pros & cons of each strategy - why kids make their decisions when they do, advantages and disadvantages to both the player and the school, why some do and some don't, the impact on the 2nd tier recruits (back-ups), how red-shirting can affect decisions, does it draw a target on someone's back, etc., etc., etc. (wolfblitz)

James Henderson- For me the strategies vary for recruits moreso than coaching staffs. I strongly believe that if a prospect is ready to verbal and has a firm offer from the school of his choice than the university will accept his verbal. I don't think too much of silent verbals, schools "holding off recruits to create a rush," etc... because programs always want commitments from players they want.

DaJuan Morgan's weird situation with Ohio State makes committing early a risk for some recruits.

With recruits, committing early has it's advantages and disadvantages. Pressure's relieved from having to make a college decision late in the process, and they are able to focus on academics and their senior season. Recruits who commit early can also began "recruiting" for their school: calling other recruits, persuading teammates, and essentially serving as an additional recruiter for that university.

However, early commitments often see their player rankings negatively influenced because focus is taken away from them once an announcement is made. Also, if a verbal and his school part ways late in the process, such as the case with NC State signee DaJuan Morgan, than an early verbal could be left without many other options because schools could have filled their positions already and not have any available scholarships.

Like with early verbals there are also pros and cons for making a signing day or late commitment. Late commitments can use the recruiting process to their advantage and make the best decision possible. They will have likely made all five official visits and had a chance to become familiar with every coaching staff recruiting them. Making a late verbal also generates more hype for the player and he could become more highly regarded by various recruiting services. These prospects will have a chance to see what other players the schools have landed, both at their position and in general. Maybe a university has already picked up two running backs, than recruit X who wants to play as a true freshman may ink elsewhere. Maybe university Y has commitments from five of the nation's premier players, and recruit Z really hopes to play with a team on the rise who is bringing in all the best recruits. Both of those scenarios would be advantages for late commitments.

With that being said, there are also disadvantages to making a late decision. PRESSURE. Programs continue to recruit these players vigorously until National Signing Day and each have stated great cases for why the recruits should go to their school. Late commitments are treated to nightly (and annoying) phone calls from different coaches, internet services, and media outlets all wanting to know where they are going.

If a player can withstand the pressure and handle all of the media attention that comes with making a signing day announcement then I believe it's the best route to take when making a college commitment.

Steve Williams- I'm not a big fan of early commitments. Oftentimes there are kids that come along that are no-brainers- they've already earned numerous offers by the spring of their junior year and will likely earn many more before all is said and done. If you get these type kids then I think the risk of them not panning out is generally lower. However, to take numerous kids that haven't received other offers (there's usually a pretty good reason why a player has no scholarship offers)- I think that is a very dangerous proposition. Many have attributed the downfall of Penn State football to that very strategy. College coaches live and die by their ability to evaluate talent but landing a large portion of your class even before the new season starts creates a huge amount of pressure to make sure you got it right. The interesting thing is that most of these "sleeper" type kids will still be around in December so why not wait until you've seen what your top-tier players have done first. You also will have had the chance to evaluate them as seniors.

NC State's strategy from day one has been to generally target the group of athletes that end up waiting to very near signing day to make a collegiate decision. Obviously the upside is you're battling for some of the best players in the nation because everyone wants them. The downside is you could miss on the vast majority and end up alone at the altar come signing day.

Forget recruiting for a second and focus on the players we do have: of the kids on the roster from last year, name a few players that maybe didn't get PT last year, but from whom good things may be forthcoming this season- who looked particularly good in spring drills and to-date summer workouts. (Packchem91)

James Henderson- First of all, the one guy who really comes to mind has to be free safety Marcus Hudson. His loss last season was big to NC State's defense given his experience in the secondary and having him back can only improve a pass defense that struggled in 2003. Hudson gives NC State a versatile defensive back that should mesh nicely with Troy Graham, Andre Maddox, and Garland Heath to form a strong safety unit for assistant coach Manny Diaz. Other potential impact newcomers include: cornerback Jimmie Sutton, linebacker Ernest Jones, and defensive linemen Martrel Brown and Kennie Covington.

Steve Williams- The two names I'll throw out are LB Ernest Jones and DT Martrel Brown. I think Jones will really surprise people this year at OLB. He's a ferocious hitter with great speed and will simply need the reps to become a major force on the Pack D. Jones will figure heavily into the 6-man LB rotation of Pat Thomas, Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay, Oliver Hoyte, Pat Lowery and Stephen Tulloch. Martrel Brown is a guy that's reportedly improved markedly since arriving at State. He was one of the top testers of all the newcomers last year and will get quite a bit of playing time behind John McCargo and Dwayne Herndon. Brown runs extremely well and has one of those motors that never stops.

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