Spring Spotlight: Tight End

RALEIGH, NC -- Depth might be a concern at tight end, but Chuck Amato is happy to have Anthony Hill back.

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    Tight End
    #83 Anthony Hill: 6'6 277 - Junior
    #89 Octavius Darby: 6'2 256 - Redshirt Sophomore
    #38 Jacob King: 6'2 238 - Sophomore

    Depth might be a concern at tight end, but Chuck Amato is happy to have Anthony Hill back.

    NC State lost two tight ends to graduation, T.J. Williams, who led the team in receiving each of the past two seasons, and John Ritcher, but returns the talented Hill.

    "Anthony Hill is coming back for his junior year," Amato said. "Anthony is awfully good.

    "Anthony Hill can become very complete, not only catching the ball, running around the field, he's tall and he can run. He's got good hands. He's a real good blocker. He's 272 pounds probably, and he doesn't look like it. He's sleek. If we had five of [him], we'd be real good."

    The junior started the last 11 games of the 2005 season as the Wolfpack opened in a two tight end set, and often played in the backfield as a fullback/h-back.

    Hill tallied 15 catches for 140 yards, the third highest returning totals on the team, and has gained a reputation as a dominating blocker. He also had a pivotal touchdown catch in the Wolfpack's huge win at Florida State, a play that sparked NC State in the second half.

    Make no mistake about it, Hill was more valuable than the numbers indicated. His blocking for tailbacks Toney Baker and Andre Brown was a welcome-addition late in the season, and didn't go unnoticed by offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

    "Oh, I love blocking," Hill said. "That's just more of a mentality that I have. If I know I can basically smash a guy on any given play I'm going to go at him."

    Anthony Hill

    "I am really excited about what Anthony brings to the table," Trestman said late last season. "He's a smart guy. He's quiet but very smart. He plays very hard and very nasty.

    "He's a nasty blocker... he's a very physical blocker. He brings a lot to the table. He's continuing to improve and getting better week in and week out.

    He is an exciting player to know that you will have around for a few more years."

    Octavius Darby (6-2, 256, R-So.) will backup Hill at tight end, while also battling with Reggie Davis for the starting fullback position. This is where the Wolfpack will miss Williams and Richter, as the depth at the position is thin.

    "Darby is coming along awfully good, but that's all we have," Amato said of his tight ends. "Last year we had four of them, and that made us feel comfortable. And that's why we used so many of them. They were all good and all had roles."

    A highly-regarded tight end prospect out of Hollywood (FL) Chaminade-Madonna Prep, Darby was tabbed a SuperPrep All-American and rated the No. 7 tight end in the nation by the same publication. He also was named the No. 2 player in Broward County according to The Miami Herald and was a two-time All-Broward County selection.

    Darby redshirted in 2004, and last year he served as Hill's backup at fullback/h-back. Darby didn't register a catch but was a solid run blocker in limited action.

    NC State inked two tight ends in February, Jonathan Hannah and Rashad Phillips, but Hannah will sit out the 2006 season as a transfer and Phillips is likely a redshirt candidate.

    The Wolfpack will need Hill and Darby to continue to develop this spring because they will be counted on to play a lot in 2006.

    Pack Pride Edge: There really isn't a battle here as Hill is a potential star at tight end. Darby, a highly-recruited prep prospect, is a very good player and would start for most other teams, but he will continue to develop behind Hill. They form a strong duo at the position.

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