Ask any NC State fan which position concerns them most and the consensus is likely to be linebacker. With the Pack set to lose four ‘backers after the 2007 season- Lerue Rumph, James Martin, Ernest Jones and Guerlin Dervil- State needs desperately to build depth for the future. State has landed Hargrave transfer Jimmaul Simmons although he may start his career at safety. But the outlook did brighten some this past weekend when Monroe (MI) standout Audie Cole pledged to the Wolfpack.
At 6-5, 215 pounds, Cole doesn't necessarily fit the mold of the prototypical linebacker. He starred for Monroe as a quarterback but will spend his career at NC State on the defensive side of the ball.
"I'm not sure what defense NC State has run in the past," Cole recently told Pack Pride. "But they told me we'll be running a 4-3, and they'll have me playing strong-side linebacker."
Recruited originally as a quarterback by Central Michigan, Cole pledged to the Chippewas earlier in the year before backing off when their head coach bolted for the vacancy at Cincinnati. It didn't take long for Cole to decide NC State was a better fit after making an official visit to State this past weekend.
"I'm now committed to NC State," said Cole. "Me and my parents talked about it during the flight back home and decided that's where I want to be. It's different than here and I think it'll be good for me to get away for a while. I called coach Bridge and told him and I'm going to call coach O'Brien in just a minute. Coach Bridge was really excited. He was yelling and screaming and glad I committed.
"I really liked the school, though. We toured everything and the field is amazing. The weight room was really nice. Kalani Heppe was my host and he showed me around."
Another key factor in convincing Cole to run with the Pack was NC State's new head coach, Tom O'Brien. O'Brien and his staff have done a superb job with the recruits brought in on official visits and that continued with Cole. The Pack's future linebacker said O'Brien was a big part in sealing the deal for the Wolfpack.
"I really like him," said Cole. He's very down to earth and seems like a nice guy. I know that he's treated me really well."
Cole projects as an academic qualifier and became the Wolfpack's 22nd commit for the class of 2007.