- Gary Grant...6-0, 190 pounds...Krop High School....Miami, Fla
- Dominique Ellis...5-11, 190 pounds...East Wake High School...Wendell, NC
- C.J. Wilson...5-11, 171 pounds...Lincolnton (NC) High School
How important was this spot in relation to other positions: Critical...State has gotten fairly thin at the CB spot and needed to add several players at this position in the class of 2008.
Did the Pack meet their needs based on sheer numbers: A
The Pack missed on: Rashaad Reid
How many may the Pack target for the class of 2009: 1-2
Of the three CB commitments in this class, Gary Grant appears to be the most polished in our opinion. His technique and understanding of the position are solid and it didn’t hurt that he was going up against solid talent week in and week out down in south Florida.
On film, Grant displays a very good backpedal and ability to turn his hips and stay locked on the receiver. He shows good lateral quickness and closing speed as well. Grant is a player that opposing teams simply didn’t test very often because of his ability to take away the other team’s top receiving threat.
In hindsight, NC State was smart in jumping on Grant early and never letting up. When UNC and Miami came calling later on in the recruiting year, Grant rewarded the Pack’s loyalty by making a commitment to State early last December and then sticking with them throughout the rest of the recruiting year.
Although a redshirt year would probably be a best-case scenario, the Pack returns only three players that have seen substantial playing time at cornerback. Depending on how he adjusts next fall, Grant could be a player that challenges for some playing time before the season is over.
When it comes to seeing playing time in 2008, Dominique Ellis has the advantage of being a little older than the other signees but the disadvantage of having sat out this past season to focus on raising his SAT score.
The good news is Ellis enrolled this past January and that, combined with the fact he will be able to go through spring practice may give him a leg up on the other two cornerbacks taken in the class of 2008.
Ellis is a player that will begin his career at corner but he may be one of those that is a work in progress. He has the frame to play bigger and it’s not impossible that he could move to safety at some point.
Speaking of safety, Ellis is someone who seems to approach the corner position with a safety’s mentality. He is very physical at the line of scrimmage and doesn’t mind laying a hit. One aspect that jumps out with Ellis is his athleticism. He was a special team’s standout in high school and does boast very impressive speed and quickness. Like Grant, he was always assigned to cover the other team’s best receiver and he rarely disappointed. Again, with State thin at corner, Ellis will have an opportunity and a head-start on competing for a spot on the two-deep next season.
Pack Pride first profiled CJ Wilson last summer. Although it seemed as the season wore on that the Pack would go in another direction, Wilson caught the eye of the Wolfpack coaches during the state playoffs and Shrine Bowl and piqued their interest. Accepting of the fact that he would likely play his college football at a smaller school, Wilson was thrilled when his mother informed him that NC State was offering a scholarship. Within a week of earning the Wolfpack offer, Wilson had made an official visit to State and a commitment to run with the Pack.
On the high school level Wilson was known as one of North Carolina’s top running backs- leading his team to a state championship and earning MVP honors along the way. However, Wilson did get some time at cornerback during the season and made the most of his snaps when on defense- finishing up with an impressive four interceptions and seven pass breakups in limited duty.
Although somewhat raw as a corner, Wilson was able to excel on the high school level because his speed, quickness and athleticism were almost always better than the competition he faced. He was able to translate those attributes to defense and make critical plays.
In college, the talent level will be much better and Wilson will obviously have to rely more on technique and fundamentals along with his natural talent in order to be successful. This means he will likely need some time in defensive back’s coach Mike Reed’s system to hone his skills before hitting the field for the Wolfpack.