Camp O'Brien: Competition at Every Position

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media following today's practice and he stressed that there is competition at every position.

"I like competition," O'Brien said following another hot, humid practice. "I think it brings out the best in guys. Everybody has got to earn a spot.

"There is a lot of competition on this team. It's going to be tough now at camp. Exams are over, school is over... it's about time now we start concentrating on football. We're going to be as hard as we can on them and seperate the guys who are going to be the tough guys and the guys we can count on and those we can't."

The most competition might be in the kicking game, as NC State is looking to replace John Deraney, who handled all of the kicking duties the past three seasons.

There is competition everywhere in the kicking game," said O'Brien. "We [had live placekicking] today. We're kicking different guys."

Most feel redshirt freshman Josh Czajkowski will handle the placekicking duties, and incoming junior college transfer Jeff Ruiz is No. 1 on the organizational chart at punter, but O'Brien is also experimenting there as well.

"[Nathan] Franklin is kicking there, the walk-on [Steven] Hauschka, the Polish rifle or whatever they call him, is working there. So we've got a lot of different... those three guys basically."

At the opening practice Ruiz strictly punted and Czajkowski only handled field goals. Franklin rotated in between punting and kicking while Hauschka worked a lot with the returners on the kickoffs.

Kickoffs is an area the Wolfpack will miss Deraney as well, as he routinely drilled kicks into the endzone. During the offseason, the NCAA moved kickoffs from the 35 to the same spot NFL kickers use. O'Brien mentioned that finding a kicker to handle kickoffs is a concern.

"It's affected a lot. We've already started kicking off to find out which guy has the strongest leg to get it to the endzone. It's definitely a concern for us right now."

Green Sticking On The Right Side: Wilmington (NC) redshirt junior offensive lineman Meares Green played right tackle, left tackle, and left guard in 2006, and O'Brien is looking to find a home for the reserve lineman.

"We're going to try and keep him on one side of the football and not try to move him back and forth," said O'Brien. "I think that's best, but then I can't predict injuries or anything like that.

"In a perfect world that is how we'd like to do it."

Green played in 11 games last season, earning three starts. Following spring practice he was listed as the backup left tackle behind redshirt freshman Julian Williams, but it now seems that he will be playing on the other side of the football.

"He prefers the right side, that is why he's over there," said O'Brien. "It ain't going to matter [where he fits best]. He's going to play where we need him."

Dunlap Working Out: NC State senior wide receiver John Dunlap was in street clothes at the opening practice of the season, but coach O'Brien said he is back in action although he has yet to participate in drills.

"He's been out working out but he hasn't been in any drills yet."

First Scrimmage On Wednesday: NC State will have its first scrimmage of fall practice tomorrow, and O'Brien will meet with the media following the scrimmage. Players won't be available, but the media will receive some stats.

The week will conclude with another mid-afternoon practice on Thursday followed by the Wolfpack's first two-a-day workout on Friday.


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