Key Losses: Leroy Harris, Merci Falaise, Jonathan Holt, James Newby
How important was this spot in relation to other positions: Critical
Did the Pack meet their needs based on sheer numbers: A
The Pack missed on: Landon Walker (Clemson), Doug Weaver (Duke), Kyle Nunn (South Carolina), Kyle Fischer (Vanderbilt), Arthur Ray (Michigan State), Donny Barclay (West Virginia)
How many may the Pack target for the class of 2008: 3-4
After signing just six offensive linemen over the last two recruiting classes, NC State was in desperate need to fill spots at this position in the class of 2007. The Pack did a commendable job by inking five linemen when all was said and done and that should get State back on track numbers-wise when recruiting this position headed forward.
After being left at the altar with several blue-chip linemen over the last several years, the old NC State staff employed a strategy this past year of scouting that second level of OL closely while still going after the more highly-regarded prospects. With so few five-star offensive linemen to go around, the Pack made a concerted effort to identify players who may be a couple of years away physically but who showed great intensity, work ethic and attitude. The philosophy appeared to be one in which linemen would be brought in to develop and mature, both mentally and physically, and hopefully be ready to contribute by their third or fourth year.
As a group, that would appear to be exactly how the OL class of 2007 played out when signing day arrived in February. There are no obvious five-star talents in the bunch but, with time, each could become a contributor down the road.
Justin Whaley from Hunt High School in Wilson, NC was the first lineman to pull the trigger on a commitment to NC State. He may be the rawest of all the OL signees but has a tremendous amount of upside. After camping at NC State over the summer and working out at offensive guard, the Pack liked him enough to offer and Whaley committed shortly thereafter.
Because he's played full time on both sides of the line at Hunt, Whaley hasn't been able to focus on just the offensive line. What he lacks in experience he makes up for by displaying good footwork, explosiveness and the ability to move. Most impressive is his nasty disposition on the field and his experience at defensive tackle should give him an aggressive streak once he becomes a full-time offensive lineman.
Just two days after Whaley's commitment to the Pack, OL Henry Lawson followed suit and pledged to State. Like Whaley, Lawson impressed the Wolfpack coaches enough at camp to earn an offer and it didn't take long for the Charlotte (NC) Catholic High School star to cast his lot with NC State.
Of all the OL signees, Lawson is probably the most accomplished in the run game. He is a tremendous run-blocker and was a workhorse in helping lead Catholic to three consecutive trips to the state championship game and victories in two of those contests. Although he will likely need some work in pass protection, Lawson does a great job of staying low and getting under the opposing defensive lineman. As a senior he did a very good job of getting to the second level on his blocks and really established himself as one of the state's most dominating blockers. He was the number two vote getter on the all-state offensive squad which is an accomplishment for a lineman.
The Pack had to wait nearly two months for their next offensive line commitment but it may have been their best. Desmond Roberts from Northampton-High West in Gaston, NC was a player that emerged as a major target for NC State about midway through his junior year. Virginia Tech, Penn State, South Carolina, East Carolina and UNC would join the Pack in making scholarship offers but State was able to connect with Roberts early on. His mom was spotted numerous times decked out in Wolfpack garb and his desire to major in Engineering was a feather in the Pack's cap. Although State had to fight to keep him after the firing of Chuck Amato, Roberts ultimately stayed true to the Pack.
Physically, Roberts is nowhere near what he will become after two or three years in the NC State strength and conditioning program. He has a huge lower body that, when developed, could turn him into a dominating offensive lineman. On the high school level, Roberts was a stalwart on Northampton's line. Over and over again you'll see Roberts driving his man backwards- oftentimes into the defensive secondary. He does a terrific job of engaging the opposing defender and once he gets his hands on him, Roberts rarely loses.
In addition to getting bigger and stronger, Roberts will need to improve his foot work and become more adept at pass protection to become a complete offensive lineman. There will likely be no rush to get Roberts on the field at NC State which should give him time to develop and mature. However, this talented lineman certainly has the potential to become a two or three year starter for the Wolfpack..
Of the 21 players that inked with NC State on signing day, perhaps none was more excited than Mike Golder from Apex (NC) High School. The Wolfpack had stayed in touch with Golder most of last summer but obviously, they likely had concerns about a knee injury he suffered earlier in the year. However, after watching film of his return as a senior, former DL coach Todd Stroud made the call and offered Golder a scholarship. The senior lineman wasted no time in accepting and committed on the spot.
As a junior Golder showed quite a bit of potential and it was that film that generated interest from the Wolfpack staff. He is a tenacious run blocker and plays to the whistle on every play. It's that hard-nosed attitude along with a great work ethic and future potential that landed him an offer from NC State. Realistically, because of his injury, Golder may have a little longer road than the other signees but as he develops physically and gets stronger and quicker, will challenge for a spot on the depth chart.
Jake Vermiglio from Milford Academy in New Berlin, NY was the final offensive lineman to commit to NC State. He made an official visit to Raleigh on Jan 12th and committed to the Wolfpack before leaving NC State on Jan 14th. Vermiglio had a dream of playing major division one football and enrolled at Milford to raise his recruiting stock after being a four year starter at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester, Mich.
Vermiglio had been on the radar of Tom O'Brien while he was still the head coach at Boston College and he maintained contact with him upon accepting the head coaching spot at NC State.
At 6-4, 300 pounds, Vermiglio gives the Pack another player at the tackle spot. Playing mostly tight end during his high school career, Vermiglio has good feet and quickness which should serve him well as he learns the nuances of pass protection at NC State. As a run blocker at Milford, he paved the way for two of the nation's top running backs in Graig Cooper (Miami) and Lesean McCoy (Pittsburgh). He has a good frame and long arms and will simply need time to add strength and explosiveness to become a contributor for the Pack.