NC State is relatively young at safety, as they look to replace two starters from last year's defense. At this point, head coach Chuck Amato is not sharing too many details about who is standing out at the position.
"Exactly what I said yesterday... nothing has changed," he said. "Two of them have experience and two of them don't, and they all have got talent."
J.J. Jones and Garland Heath are the upperclassmen blessed with experience, as they both played a lot of snaps over the past two seasons. Redshirt freshman DaJuan Morgan and sophomore Miguel Scott are the youngsters trying to win starting positions. Morgan looks noticeably bigger this fall, or does he?
"You should have taken a better look at him last year," Amato said. "He's gotten a little thicker, and he's always been a muscular individual. I know we don't allow you in the showers to take a peek at him, but he's always been pretty well-built. He's got a lot of natural skills."
All four players are outstanding athletes, but the two upperclassmen may hold an early edge for the starting spots due to their experience.
Tulloch The Tackler
There are a lot of talented linebackers in the ACC, but not many are as productive as Wolfpack junior Stephen Tulloch. In 2004, Tulloch was in for 291 plays. He recorded a tackle, QB hurry or fumble recovery on 28% of the plays (81).
This past Saturday he was the star defensively in NC State's first scrimmage, recording nine tackles, two sacks and also returning an interception for a touchdown.
The 5'11, 230-pound standout missed spring practice due to a shoulder injury, but he appears to be back at full strength.
"He's doing fine," Amato said. "He's in good shape. If we can get him to put tape on his knee braces and put all his pads in his pants maybe it will save him for the first game.
"Tulloch is a really good player, and his shoulder is fine."
Tulloch will start the season at weakside linebacker for the Wolfpack.
Fans Making A Commitment
NC State is developing a reputation for having a raucous crowd at home games and creating a definite advantage for the Wolfpack. Amato was appreciative of the Wolfpack faithful after practice, acknowledging their pride and commitment to take the steps needed to build the football program.
"The commitment that NC State fans have made to facilities after all those years of doing nothing is maybe second to none at this point, at a time when the economy started going backwards," he said. "These people have just continued to step up to the plate. They are awfully proud of this university, all those people that come in that stadium and fill it up... they've filled it up the last five seasons I guess.
"With extra seats, last year we actually led the country in percentage of attendance by what capacity is because of the extra seats we added. That's really saying something."
"These kids... they do go out there and give it their all," Amato added. "Not every game has turned out the way they kind of wanted, but there is not many games where they went out there and people can say that they were embarrassed by their performance."
Brooks, Cross To Miss 2005 Season
Wolfpack officials confirmed following practice today that Raymond Brooks and Chip Cross will not play this season.
"It looks like a couple of them are not going to be with us this fall," head coach Chuck Amato said after practice. "Really that's about as far as I can go on that because I wanted to make sure I didn't say something I wasn't allowed to say."
Raymond Brooks, a sophomore defensive end from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, showed steady improvement over the course of his freshman year, earning top newcomer award on defense. In ten games, Brooks recorded 27 tackles and one sack.
Chip Cross, a redshirt senior from Conway, North Carolina, did not play in 2004 and rejoined the team in January for spring drills.
The future plans of both players are unknown at this point.
NC State will have its second true two-a-day practice tomorrow... Running back and safety aren't the only positions with major battles ensuing, as John Deraney, Tucker King, and Bradley Pierson are battling for the punting position. Deraney is the returning starter and expect him on the field in the season opener against Virginia Tech's excellent special teams unit... After practice the defensive players put in some extra conditioning work while receivers coach Dwayne Dixon spent additional time with the wideouts using the ball machine.