Over the past year, NC State has evaluated over a thousand prospects, extended scholarship offers to less than a hundred and received verbal commitments from 24 players for the class of 2008. With just over a week to go until signing day, the Wolfpack recruiting board has whittled itself down to a final four. Sources have indicated that NC State would be thrilled to land at least two off this list but would certainly take all four if possible. Pack Pride takes an in-depth look at this quartet of players and State’s chances with each.
LB Sterling Lucas...6-2, 220 pounds, 4.65 in the 40...Orangeburg-Wilkinson (SC) High School
Background...Lucas blew up at the Shrine Bowl and has since earned offers from NC State, UNC, South Carolina, Maryland, Wake Forest and Michigan State. He logged 161 tackles and five sacks as a senior and was named defensive MVP for the South Carolina squad in the Shrine Bowl. He is being recruited as an outside linebacker for NC State.
The Good...It is in NC State’s favor that they jumped on Lucas early. After evaluating him at the Shrine Bowl, they wasted no time in extending an offer. While South Carolina did offer Lucas later on, they did so only after missing on New Bern LB Kevin Reddick. Another factor in State’s favor is the opportunity of early playing time. Finally, the NC State coaches were able to build a very strong relationship with Lucas from the beginning.
The Bad...As soon as South Carolina offered a scholarship they immediately became the main threat to land Lucas. The fact that they are the home state school and closer to home cannot be discounted. Lucas’ father recently indicated in a published report that he would like to see his son play in the SEC.
The Reality...The bottom line is this has emerged as a battle between South Carolina and NC State. At this point it is simply too close to call what he might end up doing. Pack Pride’s sources have indicated that the NC State coaching staff feel very good about their chances to land Lucas.
DE Leon Mackey...6-4, 255 pounds...Hargrave Military Academy
Background...Mackey is a very solid defensive end prospect that has quick feet and moves extremely well. Because of his frame, he has the potential to add bulk and eventually move to defensive tackle although he will start his career at defensive end.
The Good...NC State has been a player with Mackey longer than any of his finalists. The Wolfpack staff was the culprit behind Mackey transferring to Hargrave in order to get his academics in order. The Pack also has a desperate need to add young talent at the defensive end spot so playing time is an easy sell. Finally, Mackey has developed strong ties to several of the Pack coaches including Mike Reed, Keith Willis and Jerry Petercuskie. It is believed that NC State was his silent leader prior to his visit to Virginia Tech.
The Bad...Virginia Tech has been the big mover with Mackey over the last several weeks and they’ve timed that well to coincide with his decision time frame. They have come at Mackey from several different angles and like State, are looking to add at least two additional defensive ends in this class. Their history of producing defensive ends and recent ACC championship are big sells for the Hokies.
The Reality...Were the Hokies not in this race, State would probably be the odds-on favorite to land Mackey. As it is, we think Virginia Tech may be in the lead by a whisker although a decision to run with the Pack would surprise no one. What State needs here is time to take the polish off his official visit to VT last weekend and they’ll try to do that this week. The bottom line is we feel that his current pecking order is Virginia Tech, followed by NC State, then UNC and lastly FSU.
DE Devin Taylor...6-6, 210 pounds, 4.65 in the 40...Beaufort (SC) High School
Background...Taylor is a tall and lean prospect with long arms and who is very rangy. Physically, he is somewhat similar to current NC State DE Willie Young but appears to have the frame to add weight a little easier. The buzzword with Taylor is upside and he has a ton of it. He is very under-rated as a two-star in our opinion.
The Good...Engineering. Academics are a big (perhaps the biggest) consideration for Taylor and he is looking heavily at majoring in Engineering. Obviously that is a strong suit for NC State. Another factor in State’s favor has been the persistence of the Wolfpack coaches trying to land him. They chipped away and chipped away until they finally secured an official visit. Once they did, they established themselves as a major player for his commitment.
The Bad...While State’s persistence did pay off with a visit, the fact of the matter is that South Carolina and Virginia Tech have been mentioned as two of his top schools all along. While certainly doable, that’s a tall order to overcome. South Carolina can sell proximity to home while VT will sell many of the same things it has with Mackey.
The Reality....Taylor is somewhat of the wild card in the final four. He is a very quiet and reserved young man that hasn’t given many hints at all as to where he may be headed. What is known is that his mother will play a big role in his decision and whoever wins her over may have a leg up in the race. While not etched in stone by any stretch, our opinion is that Virginia Tech and South Carolina are neck and neck with the Pack slightly behind. However, a commitment to any of the three would not come as a surprise.
DE Greg Scruggs...6-5, 225 pounds, St Xavier (OH) High School
Background...Scruggs has been a fairy tale type of story of a kid that came out of nowhere to become a major division one college prospect. He has a great frame, tremendous motor and a world of upside. He’s also played for one of the midwest’s top high school programs so he’s used to playing with and against solid competition.
The Good...Tom O’Brien is from St Xavier and is very well-respected at that school. NC State was also one of the very first programs to jump on the Scrugg’s bandwagon and they will certainly try to sell the fact that they were there before many of the other schools that entered the race.
The Bad...Really, there isn’t anything bad to report, mainly because Scruggs hasn’t tipped his hand one way or the other where he may be headed. Perhaps the only downside here is that Pack Pride heard shortly after his official visit to raleigh that Scruggs would likely be a long shot for NC State.
The Reality...Like Taylor, Scruggs is a difficult one to call. One current commit told us after Scruggs’ official visit to State that he made the comment that “he was coming”. Obviously that was a long time ago in the world of recruiting. Our feeling is that Wake Forest or Louisville may hold a slight upper hand but a commit to either Tennessee or NC State certainly isn’t out of the question.
Editor’s Note- It should be pointed out that, depending on how things go with these four players over the coming five days, it is conceivable that NC State could bring in a couple of uncommitted players for official visits next weekend. Stay tuned.