While it may be too early to name a top 10 list for the state of North Carolina, the staff at Pack Pride has been able to put together a list of prospects that will likely be major targets for NC State in 2005 and will certainly receive serious consideration as being some of the state's elite talent. Here's our look at 10 names Wolfpack fans will hear quite a bit about over the coming months.
While there may be some doubt about who ultimately lands on the top 10 list in-state, there's not a lot of question about who's likely to be No. 1. OL Carl Johnson, 6-6, 325 pounds, 5.2-seconds in the 40 from S. Durham (NC) High School is a super offensive tackle prospect who has already earned offers from nearly every college super power in the nation to include Southern California, Texas, Florida, NC State and Michigan just to name a few. Interestingly, Johnson attended camp at Florida State last summer and hadn't received a lot of attention from the Noles' coaches. However, after reportedly running down a much smaller running back from behind during one drill, became the center of attention from then on. As for the Pack, they've built a strong relationship with Johnson. He's made numerous unofficial visits to Raleigh but like with every elite prospect from North Carolina, the major challenge may just be to keep him in-state. The fact that Johnson may look to graduate next January is an interesting twist and is something NC State has had a lot of success with over the last several years.
Pack fans may not be overly familiar with ATH Crezdon Butler of Asheville (NC) High School but they likely will over the coming months. Butler, at 6-1, 180 pounds and boasting 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash will be one of the state's top athletes for 2005. He lined up as a QB in 2004 and threw for 714 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for an impressive 1,495 yards and 17 scores. Butler has the combination of size, athleticism and speed that could make him a target for wide receiver, safety or corner back. UNC got on board first with a scholarship offer but it's very likely Butler will boast many more before all is said and done. Other schools showing interest are NC State, LSU, Nebraska, Wake Forest, Georgia and Tennessee.
Deunta Williams of White Oak High School in Jacksonville, NC is another ultra-versatile athlete that projects at a number of positions. At 6-3, 185 pounds and 4.5-second speed in the 40, look for Williams to get heavy attention at both wide receiver and safety. Last year Williams tallied 11 touchdowns receiving while collecting six interceptions on defense. In the Pack's favor is that they have been on Williams for quite a while and have built a relationship. However, the departure of WR coach Doc Holliday will have to be overcome. The good news is there's plenty of time for that to be accomplished. NC State, UNC and Duke have all made early offers and the Pack will surely be pressing to get Williams into their football camp this summer. Other schools in the early mix are Virginia, South Carolina and Clemson. One program to keep a close eye on is Florida.
After signing just two LB's over the last two years, it's safe to say that position will be critical for the Wolfpack in 2005. Crest High School in Shelby, NC will be home to one of the nation's best this year in LB Brandon Spikes. Spikes, 6-4, 230 pounds, 4.6-seconds in the 40, is a monster talent and may be the top threat to Carl Johnson's claim for the top spot in North Carolina. In 2004 Spikes helped lead Crest to a state championship and piled up close to 100 tackles, three sacks, seven interceptions and five forced fumbles along the way. He's already collected scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, NC State, Virginia, UNC, South Carolina and Wake Forest. The Pack may have some ground to make up as Virginia Tech and UNC have forged an early lead.
The top wide receiver in North Carolina for 2005 may very well be super-talented Owen Spencer from N. Brunswick High School in Leland, NC. At 6-3, 185 pounds and 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Spencer has big-time size as well as big-time talent and potential. He boasts solid hands and the ability to find seams in the defense. As a junior, Spencer hauled in 23 catches for 531 yards and eight TD's en route to two-time all-county honors. It is unclear whether the Pack has offered but it is safe to say Spencer will be a major target for the Pack this season. He attended the Wolfpack's junior day and the Pack will be working to get him into camp over the summer.
Kendric Burney may not be the biggest prospect but there's few players in the state that have been as successful. Lining up as a QB and CB, Burney has helped lead Southwest Onslow to two consecutive state championships. At 5-11, 165 pounds, the rising senior is smallish by division one standards but with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash and athleticism off the charts, Burney will be a major target for numerous colleges over the coming months. It is likely that Burney's ultimate destination in college will be at CB as he's already totaled 19 career interceptions for the Stallions. With offers from UNC, East Carolina and Duke already on the table, that number will likely grow over the next several months. As for the Pack, Burney and fellow Jacksonville-native Deunta Williams appeared locks for NC State prior to the departure of WR coach Doc Holliday. Now the Pack must look to forge a new relationship with Burney over the coming months but it's a safe bet that State will garner some serious consideration from this talented athlete before all is said and done.
Oftentimes players that make early commitments can be forgotten when the state's top recruiting lists are forged. Make no mistake, Gavin Smith, a 6-4, 265 pound defensive tackle with 4.9-second speed in the 40-yard dash, is a super talent who, despite his commitment to NC State, will likely enjoy numerous scholarship offers before all is said and done next February. While some have said Smith projects as an offensive lineman in college, Smith will play defensive tackle for the Pack. As a junior Smith collected 70 tackles and forced three fumbles. The talented lineman has seemingly created some wiggle room in his commitment to NC State as he has stated that he is still firm with the Pack but "keeping my options open." Some of the schools involved are Duke, UNC, Ohio State, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
2005 may not be a particularly deep year for running backs in NC but the state's very best likely resides right in the heart of tobacco road. Josh Adams' exploits on Friday nights have already become legendary in the Triangle area and the battle for his commitment will likely be fierce over the coming months. Adams put together a monster junior season for Cary High School in 2004- rushing for 2,884 yards and 26 touchdowns. That effort came after a 1,486 yard performance in 2003. NC State was the first school to offer Adams but the toughest challenge to land him may come from the Pack's rival to the west. The 5-11, 170 pound back reportedly grew up a UNC fan and the Heels could ultimately prove to be the team to beat before all is said and done. In addition to offers from UNC and the Pack, Adams also has a scholarship pledge from Clemson with serious interest coming from Penn State, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Michigan among others.
QB/ATH OC Wardlow of Mt Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, NC was a regular in the stands at NC State during the 2004 football season. If the Pack is to get him from the bleachers onto the field in 2006, they'll have to go through several college powers to pull it off. A fabulous high school quarterback, Wardlow threw for 2,052 yards and 24 touchdowns as a junior. At 6-0, 170 pounds and 4.5-second speed in the 40, it is unlikely QB will be Wardlow's ultimate destination in college. WR or DB will probably be the positions he gets the most looks at for 2006. While inside word had NC State as a serious contender just a few months ago, Wardlow recently stated that Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Georgia were the schools highest on his list currently. Wardlow's cousin, Antonio, signed with Vols this past February. While the Pack has yet to offer, it is believed they would jump right back in the mix should they decide to do so over the coming weeks.
As mentioned earlier, LB will be a key for the Pack's recruiting efforts this year. Rated just behind likely all-american pick Brandon Spikes is Terry Adams from Elkin (NC) High School. At 5-11, 215 pounds, Adams has starred as a defensive end for Elkin, amassing 149 tackles as a junior en route to conference defensive player of the year honors. However, LB is where Adams will line up in college with many feeling him destined for the middle LB spot. The Pack recently made a verbal offer to Adams, his first, and several more will likely follow in the coming months. Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Georgia and Penn State are just a sampling of the other schools showing serious interest.
Other names to watch:
CB Raeshon Mcneil (6-0, 175 pounds, 4.4-seconds in the 40) Davie County High School
S Bruce Carter (6-3, 205 pounds, 4.55-seconds in the 40) Havelock High School
OL Hutch Eckerson (6-6, 260 pounds, 5.2-seconds in the 40) Lumberton High School
RB Norman Whitley (5-11, 180 pounds, 4.5-seconds in the 40) Richmond County High School
RB Johnny White (5-10, 190 pounds, 4.4-seconds in the 40) Asheville High School
DT Tavares Brown (6-3, 250 pounds, 4.8-seconds in the 40) Richmond County High School
OL Pierre Andrews (6-3, 275 pounds, 5.1-seconds in the 40) Independence High School
QB Stephen Johnson (6-2, 180 pounds) High Point Central High School