Key Losses: Lamart Barrett, Geron James
How important was this spot in relation to other positions: Low
Did the Pack meet their needs based on sheer numbers: Grade A+
The Pack missed on: None
How many may the Pack target for the class of 2008: 1-2
For all intents and purposes, NC State targeted primarily two wide receivers for the class of 2007 and managed to snag them both. Steven Howard from Olympic High School in Charlotte and Jay Smith from Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, Va were major Wolfpack priorities throughout the 2006 recruiting year and should add more talent to a position already fairly stocked for the 2007 season.
Howard earned a scholarship offer early last year from the Wolfpack and had a very positive trip to Raleigh when he took in NC State's spring game. Shortly after that visit Howard committed to the Pack and was one of State's strongest commitments- even through the firing of former head coach Chuck Amato in February. In fact, Howard was one of State's most vocal recruiters at the Shrine Bowl in December and probably played some role in helping convince others to stay firm with the Pack.
With Howard, the Pack continued it's theme of targeting bigger wideouts. At 6-2, 185 pounds, Howard has the frame to play larger and, physically, is quite similar to Koren Robinson exiting high school.
Of all the in-state wide receivers we saw this year, Howard was the most polished. He's not the biggest and not the fastest, but he showed the purest wide receiver skills that we saw from any wideout in North Carolina.
Howard is extremely fluid and a precise route runner. There's no wasted motion when he runs and his cuts are crisp. He has very reliable hands and does a very good job of making catches in traffic.
Howard will need to get faster and stronger but State's current depth at receiver should afford him the opportunity to mature physically and the time to work his way into the Wolfpack offense.
Perhaps no player's potential has been debated more vehemently than that of Jay Smith. On one hand were the recruiting analysts who were blown away by his size, speed and catching ability earlier this year. Conversely, local observers came away unimpressed after Smith was never much of a factor in the Lake Taylor offense.
What is not up for debate is the fact that schools like Miami, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, NC State and others apparently saw something that piqued their interest enough to offer a scholarship. The Pack held a commanding early lead, probably built somewhat on Smith's history of camping at NC State and his familiarity with the Wolfpack staff. However, during the summer and early fall, Smith backed off any leaders, although at least one Miami writer predictably proclaimed him a done deal for the Canes.
Behind the scenes, sources told Pack Pride that Smith was as close to a lock as you could get for most of last year. In the end, Smith made his commitment public last November and stayed solid with the Pack after the hiring of Tom O'Brien.
We believe the sky is the limit for Smith. Physically and speed-wise, he is a bit ahead of Howard and- should Smith be able to adequately adapt to the mental transition from high school to the college level- it's not out of the realm of possibility for him to contribute in some capacity for the Pack as a true freshman.
Like Howard, Smith is a very fluid, route runner with an effortless stride. His size gives him a distinct advantage against smaller defensive backs. Smith has legitimate speed and certainly the potential to become a star for the Wolfpack down the road.