Coach Amato opened today's meeting with the media by being asked about the defensive line's leadership. The group, labeled the best in the country by most, looked like it would be the leaders of the team following practice on Friday.
"Yea, but it's hard to tell right now," Amato said. "They are grunting and groaning right now, but we're just about to get away from intramural football. It's really hard to tell right now, but they have been working their fanny off. There is no doubt about that."
In the background, senior defensive end Manny Lawson looked to be holding a players only meeting with the defense, a sight most Wolfpack fans should love to see on the third day of practice. If the defensive line can lead the Wolfpack both on the field and in the huddle, expect a strong year for NC State.
Amato also talked about the possibility of a few players changing positions, although he declined to name any names. On Friday, he had mentioned that redshirt freshman Gerard Miller had been moved to the offensive line and incoming freshmen Levin Neal and J.C. Neal were playing wide receiver and safety respectively.
"There are a couple of people that I've got my eyes on about switching, but we'll let them go a little bit," Amato said. "We'll see what happens when they've got pads on."
NC State's next practice will be tomorrow afternoon.
Quality Over Quantity
After landing a stellar offensive line recruiting class, the Wolfpack has seventeen linemen on scholarship, a number that should please Amato. However, he admits that molding that starting five is now the key.
"What we're looking for is quality," Amato said. "That's the big thing. We've got a lot of people that we've got in there. We've got enough offensive linemen now as far as numbers.
"We've got to hone it down.. we've got to make a decision on who the top five are going to be and get them to work as a unit."
Cohesiveness is obviously the key along the offensive line, and it is believed that returning starters John McKeon, Leroy Harris, and Derek Morris should start the opener against Virginia Tech. Other possibilities include John Amanchukwu, Dwayne Herndon, Kalani Heppe, and James Newby.
When asked about the possibility of having an offensive line rotation, Amato quipped at the notion.
"Five... we want five first," he joked. "We'll start with five and go from there."
Junior Derek Morris said following practice that the offensive line and the entire offense has changed its philosophy going into the 2005 season.
"We want to attack," Morris said. "With the offense running to the ball now it looks like the defense. I think that is going to help our pace when the games come along."
No Strategy The Best Strategy?
Several programs across the country have landed a host of early verbal commitments, with the North Carolina Tar Heels leading the way with an astounding 22 early verbal commitments. What does Amato think of the idea to land as many early verbal commitments as possible?
"We just want to recruit the kids that we feel can help us get to where we want to go," he said. "If twenty of them want to commit tomorrow then we'd take them, and then we'd have to fight like mad because there'd be a bullseye on all those kids.
"We've got a few commitments and that's enough for the time being. It's hard to do two things at one time."
He added that programs like Florida State are known for landing a rash of commitments near signing day, and their class rarely suffers.
"Look down there where I came from... every year going into the last week everybody is biting fingernails," said Amato. "Come that day they end up in the top five all the time. Wouldn't that be nice someday?
"Sometimes it's not the first five, six, or seven that commit that make your recruiting class a phenominal recruiting class it's that last five or six. Do you have a enough to be able to get that last five or six? Or are they all gone?
"It's a fine line, and it's not a philosophy."
It seems that the status of 2005 signee Brandon Jefferies is still up in the air, despite a published report saying he would not be able to enroll at NC State.
"He's been told... the ball's in his [court]," Amato said when asked about the status of Jefferies.
"Hold onto the football... secure the ball." -- Chuck Amato when asked about the qualities he's looking for in his starting tailback