NC State will try to add at least one or two talented wide-outs in the class of 2005 and they have their eye on one of northern Florida's top athletes in Rod Owens from Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, Fla.
Recognized as one of Florida's top track athletes, Owens personifies the type of athlete the Pack loves to target in their skill positions. At 6-1, 170 pounds, the senior receiver is one of the Sunshine State's top performers in the long jump, triple jump and hurdles. However, it's the football field where several colleges have taken notice after Owens put together a stellar junior campaign.
On the year, Owens snagged 53 receptions for 1,073 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to all-conference and all-state (3A) honors.
Headed into his senior season, Owens has been rated the No. 4 WR in Florida by The Orlando Sentinel and a three-star prospect by TheInsiders.com. However, Owens says he doesn't worry much about rankings, focusing, instead, on his upcoming season.
"To be honest, I don't go on the internet much because I don't want to get caught up in all that," said Owens. "I really just want to focus on getting ready for my senior season."
Although he has played both punt returner and defensive back, Owens is being recruited primarily as a WR and has earned early scholarship offers from Maryland, UNC, Central Florida, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
Owens says he thinks he knows what has attracted the interest of so many colleges.
"I love big-game situations," said Owens. "I'm good at blocking but that's one of the things I need to improve on. I've got good hands. I run good routes. I also have good endurance because we run a hurry-up offense. Our base package is a four wide receiver set but sometimes we go five wides or sometimes we'll go just three wides. But our offense really gives me a chance to show what I can do."
One of the schools recruiting Owens that quickly caught his eye was NC State. In an ironic twist, Wolfson's mascot is the Wolfpack and the speedy wide-out quickly made a connection between high school and college.
"I got interested in NC State by watching them on TV," said Owens." I like the way they use all their wide receivers. So that would give me a chance to play early if I'm ready because I don't want to get to college and have to wait until my junior year to play. I'm really looking at their depth charts but I'm also looking at the environment and how I fit in.
"I haven't been to NC State so I hadn't seen it up close yet. But the coach came by this spring and I've read their mail. Their campus looks nice and the Wolfpack- I just like the Wolfpack."
In addition to NC State, Owens rounded out his top four schools.
"I like NC State, Maryland, Florida and Central Florida. I'm undecided on my fifth school."
As things stand now, the team everyone will most likely have to go through, should they offer, is the Florida Gators. Owens talked about his thoughts on Gainesville.
"I run track also so I've been there for the track relays and they (Florida) have a good track program," said Owens. "They also have a nice environment there. I camped there and I feel like I could fit in with them. They also have the major I'm looking at. They've told me they want to see some of my games this year."
Another factor in the Gators' favor is location. Owens said the lure of playing football close to home is strong.
"I would like to stay close to home because of my parents so they can come to the games but if I have to go out of town I don't mind," said Owens. "But if I can get an offer from a good school in Florida, I'll probably stay here. But that doesn't mean I'm not considering other schools because I really like NC State."