Blackman, a junior from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, began the 2005 season as the Wolfpack's starting tailback but his role diminished with the emergence of Andre Brown and Toney Baker. A dynamic athlete, he earned all-ACC honors as a return specialist and excels with the ball in his hands. Blackman rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns in 2005, and tallied 704 return yards. He added another 151 yards receiving, including a 70-yard touchdown reception against Eastern Kentucky. With the graduation of Brian Clark, Tramain Hall, and Sterling Hicks, expect Blackman to receive a lot of playing time at wide receiver.
He isn't the only running back who will play a new position this spring, as bruising senior Reggie Davis has moved to fullback. Checking in at 6-foot, 246-pounds, Davis received limited reps in 2005, but should excel at fullback.
There haven't been any changes at quarterback, but all three returners added weight this offseason. Starter Marcus Stone is now 6-foot-4, 236-pounds and backup Daniel Evans is up to 191 pounds, nearly 30 pounds heavier than when he first arrived at NC State. Redshirt freshman Michael Greco added 12 pounds this season, as he now checks in at a sturdy 6-foot-3, 220-pounds. Expect Greco and Evans to battle it this spring for the backup position. Neither player has attempted a college pass.
Junior Pat Bedics had been listed at fullback, but he will play linebacker this spring. The Penn State transfer played the position for the Nittany Lions, and he should add depth for the Wolfpack at a position which certainly needs it. The 6-foot, 246-pound Bedics will now play on the same side of the ball as his younger brother, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle John Bedics.
At wide receiver, junior John Dunlap will now wear No. 1 after wearing No. 83 his first two seasons at NC State. He and returning starter Lamart Barrett should be pushed this spring by redshirt freshmen Geron James and Kyle Newell. James, who played two games last season and recorded a touchdown before missing the rest of the year with a shoulder injury, is listed at 6-foot-4, 185-pounds while Newell is an imposing wideout at 6-foot-5, 223-pounds.
The Wolfpack's most impressive physical specimen just might be starting tight end Anthony Hill. The junior checks in at 6-foot-6, 277-pounds and will work exclusively at tight end after playing fullback and h-back in 2005. Hill finished the year with 15 catches for 140 yards including a huge touchdown reception at Florida State, and his presence as a punishing blocker was also felt. Reserve tight end Octavious Darby is currently listed at 6-foot-2, 256-pounds, up nearly 21 pounds since arriving at NC State.
Along the offensive line, senior Leroy Harris and redshirt junior Kalani Heppe are both listed as a center/offensive guard, leaving the door open for either to play center in 2006. They are also now listed at 6-foot-3, 300-pounds each. Sophomore Curtis Crouch surprised some folks this fall when he played great down the stretch, as most expected him to redshirt his first season at NC State. Crouch is now firmly entrenched as the starter at right guard and at 6-foot-5, 344-pounds he will be a load for opposing defenders.
A lot will be asked of defensive ends Littleton Wright and Willie Young, as both have huge shoes to fill with the departures of Mario Williams and Manny Lawson. After redshirting last season, Wright is now listed at 6-foot-6, 244-pounds, and Young measures in at 6-foot-5, 230-pounds. James Martin, a redshirt junior who played sparingly at defensive end in 2005, is now listed at linebacker. The 6-foot-1, 236-pound Martin played outside linebacker in high school, where he was used mainly as a pass rusher.
With the additions of Martin and Bedics at linebacker, NC State has some numbers to work with this spring. LeRue Rumph, Pat Lowery, and Ernest Jones all return, with Jones now wearing No. 5 instead of No. 45. He isn't the only linebacker who will be breaking in a new number this spring as redshirt junior Guerlin Dervil now wears No. 35 instead of No. 11. The top newcomer just might be redshirt freshman Ray Michel. Head coach Chuck Amato raved about Michel prior to the Car Care Bowl, and the Fort Myers (FL) native could be the heir apparent to Stephen Tulloch at weakside linebacker.
Expect Amato and his coaching staff to experiment this spring with different lineups and these position changes may not be permanent so stay tuned!