Key losses...Oliver Hoyte, Stephen Tulloch
Number signed at this position over the last two years...2
How important was this spot in relationship to other positions...crucial
Did the Pack meet their needs based on sheer numbers... Grade C
After signing just two linebackers in the last two classes, one has to wonder why it has become so difficult for State to recruit this position. The Pack has had several players excel under coach Amato at this spot (Dantonio Burnette, Stephen Tulloch, Oliver Hoyte, Pat Thomas) yet, that success hasn't consistently translated to recruiting victories. It would be a safe assumption that State would have liked to have landed a couple more prospects at this position.
Did the Pack get their top prospects... Grade C
John Ware and Nate Irving were solid pickups for NC State but the Pack missed on several prospects and backed off on others. Emanuel Cook (South Carolina), Matt Wright (Virginia Tech), AJ Jones (Florida), Chris Neild (West Virginia), Jerrail Miller (UNC), Andres Morales (Rutgers) and Chasman Davis (Mississippi State) were all players that State pursued vigorously. The Pack showed interest in Antonio Lowery (Rutgers) and Alonzo McQueen (South Florida) but backed off prior to signing day.
Several years ago, height may have been a concern when targeting future LB's for the Wolfpack. However, after the success of all-ACC LB Stephen Tulloch, the NC State coaching staff has become much more receptive to evaluating and targeting players that may not fit the prototypical mold of ‘backers. That was certainly the case with John Ware, a 5-11, 210 pound standout from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Ft Lauderdale, Fla. While Ware made his mark as one of south Florida's top running backs in 2005, with around 1,000 yards rushing on the year, it's weakside linebacker where NC State projects this talented prospect. What the Pack got is a solid, all-around student-athlete who is tough-nosed with the frame to add considerable muscle in the future. He has good quickness and finished off this past season with nearly 65 tackles, two sacks and one pick en route to all-county honors and a three-star rating from the Miami Herald. Ware's experience helps him on defense and his instincts and experience on that side of the ball allow him to recognize and react to plays quickly. The Pack faced the stiffest recruiting competition from Ole Miss and Rutgers but the fact that the Ware family is building a house in North Carolina helped seal the deal for the Pack.
It wasn't a particularly deep year for linebacker talent in North Carolina in 2005. However, Nate Irving from Wallace-Rose Hill High School in Teachey, NC was generally considered to be one of the state's top three at that position. The good news for the Pack was that Irving was a huge State fan and his planned major, Veterinary Medicine, was a perfect fit with the Wolfpack. At 6-3, 210 pounds and boasting 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Irving was extremely productive during his high school career. He tallied nearly 250 tackles as a junior and senior and helped establish Wallace-Rose Hill as one of the dominant prep programs in the state. What the Pack got was a humble, quiet individual that simply goes out and makes plays. Irving is not flashy but there's no mistaking when he's on the field. A natural at OLB, he reads plays well and is super quick to the ball. Irving is a solid tackler and is most effective in reading and pursuing running plays. He still needs some work in pass coverage which is fairly common for all players exiting high school. Irving reminded us quite a bit of current Pack LB Ernest Jones at this stage of his career. With time and experience, Irving could emerge as a major contributor down the road.