Pack Pride breaks down the highs and lows from Saturday's Shrine Bowl game held in Spartanburg, SC.
How did NC State's commitments look?
Justin Byers...Byers had an interception and looked solid throughout from his safety spot. Played within himself and didn't get out of position which could have been bad news considering South Carolina's game plan was to throw the ball all over the field. Will need to mature physically but should be a solid player down the road.
Dominique Ellis...South Carolina refused to throw to Marcus Gilchrist's side of the field. As a result, Ellis was the beneficiary of a lot of action. Ellis' fundamentals as a CB are solid. He gave a cushion to the SC wideouts and it was clear the game plan was not to allow anything deep. His tackling skills were solid and he came away with defensive MVP honors. Of all the State kids we spoke with, he and Steven Howard seem the most solid to State despite the fact he will be taking some visits.
George Bryan...Physically, one of the most impressive prospects on either squad and has picked up quite a bit of size since the summer. Bryan was not a factor in the passing game and was used exclusively as a blocker. He struggled at times with DE Cliff Mathews but so did everyone else. If he continues to grow he could make a heck of an offensive tackle.
Desmond Roberts...Roberts played very sparingly and struggled during the short amount of time he was in. He had a snap infraction on one play and really struggled getting any push on the SC nose tackle. Roberts was pushed around physically and he's definitely going to need to get stronger. However, there's no mistaking his potential and Penn State is putting on the full court press for him right now.
Kyle Linney...Of all the NC State players, I was most impressed with Linney. He was not on the starting rotation but because of how active he was in the first half, he ended up seeing many more snaps in the second half. He had a nice tackle for loss and just missed on two QB sacks. In all, we saw him make three QB hurries. Linney has tremendous quickness off the line but is still raw and will need some coaching. He had a tendency to get his back turned at the line of scrimmage which took himself out of several plays. Linney also seemed to wear down a bit and lose some of his effectiveness late in the game. In all, he will be a good one down the road. Watch out for Clemson with Linney
Steven Howard...We said back in the spring that he was the smoothest wide receiver we saw in the state and we still feel that way. Howard's route running is superb, he's a hard worker and has a tremendous attitude. He caught a couple of passes in this game but was never a major factor in NC's ball-control offense. Howard appears to be rock-solid for the Pack.
Here are some other opinions from the game Saturday
Most over-hyped player entering the Shrine Bowl
Willy Korn...Granted, this was one game but the most accurate word I can come up with to describe Korn's game Saturday is "horrible". You can see that he does have the tools to become a good QB but he made bad throw after bad throw and some were absolutely terrible- five yards over the receivers head or bounced two yards in front of the receiver's feet. Korn really struggled with the NC pass rush and seemed to panic when defenders got too close. He abandoned the pocket extremely early on several plays when all he had to do was step up. For Clemson fans that thought Korn would come in as the savior at QB for next year, they likely came away with a different plan after Saturday.
Best player on the field
Cliff Mathews...without a doubt this kid is a star in the making. He was all over the field and runs like a deer. Mathews is also a big-time hitter and laid out the NC QB on one blind-side hit that resulted in a defensive score for SC.
Most under-rated player on the field
John Stamper...the Wake Forest commit made several nice plays including two beautiful pass breakups. Not the biggest player but has above average speed and is the typical Deacon recruit that will probably go on to big things at Wake Forest
Maybe another position would be better
Josh Oglesby...Some have wondered if Oglesby would really play RB at Virginia Tech and that question seemed to have even more validity after Saturday. Oglesby spent time at safety and what does it say if he couldn't even get meaningful snaps at RB in this game when the NC squad really didn't have any big-time backs.
Ryan Houston...One thing you can say about Houston is he is big. However, unless he drops 30 pounds, it's hard to imagine him being an effective back in college. He was dropped for a one yard loss on one run and had gaping holes on two others but the burst was simply not there to take advantage and, as a result, ended up being just three or four yard gains. Unless Houston can greatly improve his foot speed he's going to have a tough time breaking in as a RB.
Weird play of the game
Late in the game, SC QB Matt Lentz rolled out for what appeared to be a pass play. He stopped after running about seven yards and just cradled the ball. He was hit by a NC defender and fumbled. During the play it almost appeared as if Lentz just quit but we found out later he actually tore a ligament in his throwing hand- probably during the snap or when he was trying to grip the ball.
Strangest comment overheard during the game
NC was driving late in the game and faced a fourth and two from the SC five yard line. The NC squad was whistled for an illegal procedure penalty that sent head coach Ed Emory into a frenzy. He was overheard yelling at the official that he didn't make the call until the RB got into the endzone. As it were, the NC back was stopped several inches from getting a first down and never got close to the end zone.
Other players that impressed Saturday
Jason Barnes...very under-rated receiver in our opinion. Has great hands.
Travian Robertson...Has tremendous upside
Tydreke Powell...Moves extremely well and will be a big–time player down the road.
Jonathan Williams...great athlete that we think will likely project as a safety in college
Marcus Gilchrist...shut down his side of the field all day and when SC did test him, he made an interception.
Melvin Ingram...would love to have Ingram in Raleigh. He has all the tools and scored a TD on a fumble recovery.
Matt Thompson...Thompson got into coverage quite a bit Saturday which is different than the "last line of defense" role he plays for E Alamance. He did a very nice job and had one really impressive, diving pass breakup.