Class of 2008 Review: Safety

Pack Pride takes a look back at the trio of safeties NC State signed in the class of 2008.



- Clem Johnson...6-0, 190 pounds...Valley Forge Military College...Carlisle, Pa

- Earl Wolff...6-0, 190 pounds...Hoke County High School...Raeford, NC

- Roy Mangram...6-1, 200 pounds...Glynn Academy...Brunswick, Ga

How important was this spot in relation to other positions: Critical...Like the cornerback position, the safety spot has gotten thin for NC State and the departure of Dajuan Morgan to the NFL didn’t help any. The Pack needed depth and immediate help and succeeded on both fronts.

Did the Pack meet their needs based on sheer numbers: A

The Pack missed on: Eddie Whitley, Spencer Adams, Elton Ford, Okechuckwu Okoroha, JT Floyd

How many may the Pack target for the class of 2009: 1-2

After watching Valley Forge S Clem Johnson on film you can’t help but wonder how this guy managed to stay off the recruiting radar for most of the recruiting year. Playing primarily QB but helping his team in a number of ways, Johnson will bring tremendous athleticism to the safety position for NC State in 2008 and has the natural ability to help right away. While his focus in junior college was primarily at QB, Johnson will need some time to hone his technique and coverage skills but with his speed, quickness and overall football skills and IQ, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Equally exciting with Johnson is the dimension he could bring to special teams. Because of his elusiveness in the open field and quick feet, he should get a shot at punt or kick returner next season.

O the recruiting front, Johnson originally gave a verbal commitment to Temple but with time, it became apparent that he had the ability to play at a much higher level. West Virginia, Georgia Tech and Central Michigan all came calling, as did Arkansas. In fact, media outlets that cover Arkansas floated out a story that Johnson didn’t have the academics to play for the Razorbacks once he shunned their visit for a trip to State instead. That information was clearly inaccurate and the fact that Johnson pledged to NC State over Arkansas helped ease the sting from missing out on S Elton Ford.

If you were looking for the high school prospect that looked most like Adrian Wilson on film then Roy Mangram was that guy. The bottom line is that, had Mangram’s grades been better and the question of prep school or junior college not hanging as a possibility, he likely would have been a national prospect.

Mangram’s style of play on defense could best be described as that of an enforcer. Time after time you see Mangram flying around like a torpedo just waiting to blast a ball-carrier. He plays with a physicality that you rarely see on the high school level.

With his frame, there’s the potential Mangram could one day grow into an outside linebacker and given State’s depth needs at that position, it may not be a bad thing. As a safety, he’ll need to become more polished but he certainly won’t need a lot of coaching up to go out and smash an opposing offensive player.

State really laid the foundation to gain Mangram’s commitment when they hosted him at their spring game last year. While Clemson and South Carolina would get involved later on, the Pack stayed on him throughout. This past October State made a solid scholarship offer to Mangram and he didn’t waste a lot of time deciding in favor of the Wolfpack.

Earl Wolff from Hoke County was one of the really nice surprises for the class of 2008. He came to NC State’s camp last summer as a complete unknown on the recruiting circuit. After just a few workouts he had everyone asking who he was. During workouts at State he impressed everyone with his size, speed and athletic ability. Wolff was one of the best receivers in attendance and just looked good in all the drills he participated in. It didn’t take long for the Wolfpack to make a decision with Wolff and they extended a scholarship offer immediately after camp ended.

With an NC State offer in hand, it didn’t take long for Wolff to decide that Raleigh was where he wanted to spend his college career. After his decision, UNC would pursue Wolff vigorously but made no headway in swaying him away from his commitment to the Pack.

As a skilled football player, Wolff is considered raw and has a lot to learn before he reaches his full potential. However, what he does boast is all the tools to someday emerge as a solid player for NC State. There was some consideration given to playing Wolff at receiver but the decision was made to put him at safety instead.

Wolff actually appears to be somewhat of a younger version of Clem Johnson. Size-wise, the two are very comparable and boast many of the same attributes. Wolff has above average athleticism and he backs that up with great jumping ability, speed and hands. He’ll need some time to become familiar and comfortable in his role as a safety on the division one level but defensive back’s coach Mike Reed has to be thrilled with the tools and skills Wolff brings to the table.

Pack Pride Top Stories