With six months down, NC State has reached the halfway point to signing day 2008. In all, the Wolfpack has landed verbal commitments from nine prospects and will likely take roughly 12-13 more to finish up with a signing day class in the 21-22 range. If all goes according to plan, class of 2007 signees Kyle Linney and Dominique Ellis will be added on top of those numbers should they meet their academic requirements.
When Tom O'Brien left Boston College to become the head coach at NC State, most experts agreed that the Pack had landed a solid coach with a tremendous ability to identify high school talent. Longtime observers of his recruiting methods said State fans shouldn't expect anything fancy. O'Brien's track record was built on landing diamond's in the rough, the less-heralded players that eventually went on to become solid football players and that trend was expected to continue once he made the transition to Raleigh.
Wrong. In the first half of the year O'Brien and his staff have proven the ability to go out and compete with the perennial, national powers for recruits. NC State has landed three 4-star players and four 3-star players. The Pack has already landed more 4-star players than the last two recruiting classes combined. Along the way the Pack beat Michigan and Florida State for the No. 1 QB in Virginia. They landed the number one offensive player in North Carolina over offers from Southern Cal, Auburn and Clemson. The number one defensive player in North Carolina turned down Florida, Virginia Tech and Clemson to run with the Pack. Two other recruits boasted better than a half dozen scholarship offers but passed on them all for a chance to suit up for coach O'Brien and company. While there will be sleepers in the class of 2008, the Pack has proven they can go head to head with the nation's best to land football talent.
What has the Pack landed so far?
Perhaps no position needed more attention in 2007 than the linebacker spot. With Crest's Dwayne Maddox, Scotland County's Terrell Manning and Milton (Fla) standout William Beasley all committed, the Pack has laid a foundation from which to build for year's to come. This is the most talented trio of high school LB's to commit to the Pack in years and will certainly give O'Brien and defensive coordinator Mike Archer even more ammo to consider a potential move to a 3-4 defense.
Another position that has been in a constant state of flux since the departure of all-american Philip Rivers has been the QB spot. O'Brien and Wolfpack offensive coordinator Dana Bible made a resounding statement in addressing those needs by landing 4-star QB Mike Glennon earlier this summer. Many feel Glennon has big-time potential and will simply need the time to adjust to the speed and demands of division one football.
After losing Jonathan Hannah to Florida State and the injuries sustained in a car wreck by Rashad Phillips, the tight end spot has become quite thin for the Pack. State took a big step in addressing those concerns when they secured a verbal commitment from the No. 2 tight end in North Carolina. Mario Carter out of Independence High School picked the Pack over numerous other offers and will give State an extremely talented pass-catching option down the road.
The Pack has boasted some very talented wideouts over the years and has a solid roster of receivers currently. However, they definitely upgraded in the speed department when they landed Wakefield's TJ Graham earlier this summer. Graham is one of the state's fastest prospects and blew the Wolfpack coaches away with his talents during their summer camp. Upon learning that State had shored up their scholarship offer, Graham wasted no time in committing and quickly became a huge influence for the Pack out on the recruiting trail.
Tobias Palmer from Northwood High School is another blistering-quick athlete that gives the State coaches options on both offense and defense. Based on what we've seen physically, we think Palmer could become a tremendous cornerback down the road.
Another player that could prove to be a standout defensive back is Earl Wolff from Hoke County. The talented athlete wowed the NC State coaches at camp and earned a scholarship offer afterwards. Wolff committed soon thereafter and will probably get a shot at either wide receiver or safety once he arrives in Raleigh in 2008.
The most highly rated prospect to commit to NC State thus far is 4-star athlete Brandon Barnes. One network rates him a five-star player while ESPN has listed him as the No. 27 player in the nation regardless of position. Barnes brings versatility to the Pack. Because of his size and speed he could likely end up at running back, wide receiver, cornerback or kick returner.
Where does the Pack go from here?
The Pack is done recruiting the QB position and will likely pass on taking a kicker in the class of 2008. In addition to the players already committed, it appears State will look to take one additional wide receiver, running back, linebacker and tight end in this class. Landing one or two additional cornerbacks and safeties would also be ideal.
Headed into the second half of the recruiting year, look for the Pack to really put a heavy emphasis on the line positions- especially the offensive tackle spot. In all, State could end up spending roughly a half dozen scholarships total on the offensive and defensive lines.
Star power still on the board?
The Wolfpack is still in serious contention for several highly rated prospects. 4-star RB Ryan Williams, 4-star TE Dwayne Allen and 4-star WR Deion Walker are State's best options at the skill positions.
On the offensive line, State continues to be a serious player for 4-star offensive linemen RJ Mattes and Mike Diaz. The Pack is also in the top two or three for 3-star OL Andrew Wallace and Nick Becton.
The numbers are much thinner on the defensive side of the ball. Leon Mackey and Quinton Coples give NC State a couple of 4-star options at defensive end but both are considered long shots for the Pack currently.
The most highly rated cornerback on the board currently is 3-star Marcus Udell. In his most recent interview he named NC State as his top school.