Sunday marked the unofficial start of the 2007-08 football recruiting season as NC State held it's annual junior day event. With around 50 players expected to be in attendance, this was a chance for the entire NC State staff to introduce themselves to the new class of prospects as well as show off the Pack's facilities and campus. There was also a panel of current players present that fielded questions from recruits with none of the coaches present. The parents weren't left out as a group of current players were also there to field their questions as well. The event lasted roughly five hours and primarily attracted many of North Carolina's biggest names with a few out-of-state players on hand as well.
Here's a rundown of several of the prospects that were to be in attendance.
Although he only made it to junior day for a couple of hours before heading to the Duke-UNC basketball game, LB Terrell Manning from Scotland County may have been the headliner of the group. He will challenge for the top spot in next year's in-state class and is a huge priority for the NC State staff. While he's shying away from naming a specific leader, Manning is looking closely at NC State, UNC, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina and Clemson. Unofficially, we think the Pack is in very good shape with Manning and the opportunity for immediate playing time at State is a big factor. He is also working to enroll in January so his recruiting may go at an accelerated pace.
NC State, Clemson and UNC lead the way in the early going for Crest LB Duane Maddox. He also was scheduled to make an abbreviated trip to State's junior day before heading to UNC. Likely a top five player in North Carolina for the class of 2008, Maddox has listed State as his top school at times but told us he's open currently. We feel there may be some family factors that may help to keep Maddox close to home- he's originally from Durham- and the Crest coaching staff has been very Wolfpack-friendly. Again, the opportunity for early playing time could play an important role in NC State's chances.
Brandon Barnes is a dynamic athlete from Bunn High School and he has picked up early offers from NC State, UNC and Auburn. While Barnes has mentioned the Tigers as an early favorite, he is very close to his family and that could play a role in keeping him close to home. The coaching staff at Bunn is also extremely high on the new coaching regime at NC State and that should help the Pack's cause.
OL Justin Ward from Rockingham County earned an early offer from the new staff but O'Brien and company are still evaluating him. Ward looks impressive physically and we think you'll see him pick up a bunch of offers before all is said and done. As is stands now, Ward gave us the impression that State may be atop his list.
Although TE D'Wayne Allen from Terry Sanford committed early to Georgia, he's taken advantage of nearly every available opportunity to visit NC State. He told us yesterday that he's still committed to the Bulldogs but he is considering the Pack and that the next five months would be "interesting". Pack basketball commit CJ Williams and his family are very close to Allen and brought him up to NC State on Sunday. It's also known that Allen's mother has said that she would prefer her son stay closer to home. Allen is another player that likely projects as a four-star prospect for the class of 2008.
Although he was at the Tom Lemming photo-shoot, there was conflicting information as to whether Northwood's Tobias Palmer made it over to NC State's junior day. He is currently favoring NC State, UNC and Florida State. When he was offered by the old staff, Palmer was all but committed to the Pack and we feel State holds a sizable lead although the Heels likely pose the stiffest competition right now. We do know Palmer went to the Duke-UNC basketball game but he told us he was pulling for Duke.
West Columbus RB Travis Leggett was on hand for junior day and he is a dynamic athlete who played out of position much of 2007 due to the starting QB being injured. We think Leggett is a player that wouldn't waste much time in committing to the Pack should the coaches pull the trigger on an offer. However, it appears likely that State will try to get him into camp and evaluate him further before that decision is made. UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech and East Carolina are also involved.
Butler QB Jacob Charest was one of four Butler standouts that attended junior day on Sunday at NC State. Charest boasted an early offer from the old Wolfpack staff with Louisville also offering. He told us that he doesn't have any favorites but we believe he will stay relatively close to home. Schools like NC State, UNC, South Carolina, Clemson, Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia Tech appear to be some of the main ones he's focusing on. As far as the Pack is concerned, Charest gave us the impression that he wants to see if the new Wolfpack staff can turn State around and if so, he would likely give the Pack a much closer look.
One of the out-of-state players that made it up to NC State on Sunday was Johnsonville (SC) OL Justin Lewis. After making the trip to South Carolina on Saturday for the Gamecocks junior day, Wolfpack recruiting coordinator Jerry Petercuskie called Lewis' coach and made his case for the Lewis family to make the trek to Raleigh on Sunday. We feel State is a legitimate contender for Lewis and this is a player to keep a close eye on. South Carolina, Clemson and UNC are also involved.
While not a complete list, here are many of the other names that reportedly attended junior day on Sunday.
TE Mario Carter...Independence High School
RB Rod Chisholm....Independence High School
OL RJ Mattes...Jay Robinson High School
WR Mickey Brewer...Butler High School
S Spencer Adams...Butler High School
S Eddie Whitley...Butler High School
S Tony Morgan...Garner High School
QB Braden Hanson...Charlotte Latin High School
LB Kevin Reddick...New Bern High School
OL Nick Becton...New Hanover High School
OL Jon Cooper...Hoggard High School
ATH Kamar Cross...Jones High School
DB Ed Gainey...Mt Tabor High School
LB/RB Bobby Hedgepeth...NW Halifax High School
OL CJ Brown...New Hanover High School
ATH Damont Terry...Scotland County
DE Quinton Coples...Kinston High School