NC State picked up a verbal commitment from Lackawanna (NY) High School RB Curtis Underwood this past weekend and it's safe to say that more than a few Wolfpack fans came away wondering exactly who this new player was. Although he may be an unknown to the State faithful, Underwood is certainly no mystery man in his home state of New York.
After rushing for 1,344 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, Underwood followed that up with a fabulous senior season that helped lead Lackawanna to a state championship. On the year he tallied 2,114 yards and 21 touchdowns and was named the top player in western New York.
His high school head coach, Bruce Lakso, has seen Underwood grow as a player first hand and he recently told Pack Pride that the Pack got a steal in his talented back.
"Curtis is a great kid," said Lakso. "He's a shade under 6-foot and weighs about 210 (pounds). If you watched his highlight film, he's a powerful runner on the inside but has the speed to break it outside. I can tell you that he's never been caught from behind and he's been a four year starter here.
"He's got great vision and just sees the field really well. He's also got great cutback ability."
Lakson added that numerous teams had just started to jump on the Underwood bandwagon but Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien had been on him the longest.
"Pittsburgh has been involved with him," said Lakso. "Penn State was supposed to come by this Wednesday. Syracuse had started showing interest and so did Maryland. Michigan had been recruiting him but once Mike Hart said he was staying, they decided that they didn't have as much need for another running back.
"But the staff at NC State, coach Swepson and coach O'Brien, when they were at Boston College, they were going to bring him in (for an official visit). As soon as they had a chance to get settled down there, they called and I would say they've been after him more rigorously than anyone else. They had told him that he was their number one running back recruit."
Academically, Lakso said his star RB should be good to go and it's his work in the classroom that has exemplified Underwood's work ethic and determination.
"Based on the NCAA's sliding scale, Curtis is qualified now," he said. "But he's been going to an academy that helps to prepare for the test because he wants to get a better score. Last year he went to summer school- not because he had failed any classes but because he wanted to improve his academic standing."