Spring Spotlight: Quarterbacks

For NC State to take the next step as a football program, the Wolfpack needs stability and improved play out of the quarterback position.

RETURNING CONTRIBUTORS
#7 Daniel Evans: 6'2 191 - Redshirt Senior
#12 Harrison Beck: 6'2 220 - Redshirt Junior
#10 Justin Burke: 6'3 210 - Redshirt Sophomore

For NC State to take the next step as a football program, the Wolfpack needs stability and improved play out of the quarterback position. All three quarterbacks who played are back, including Daniel Evans, a senior who has starter for much of the past two seasons.

Evans looked like he had turned the corner after back-to-back 300-yard games against East Carolina and Virginia. However, struggles late in the year versus Wake Forest and Maryland, not to mention two critical interceptions that nearly cost the Wolfpack a sure victory over North Carolina, left a sense of doubt in the eyes of Wolfpack fans.

Evans looked like he
had turned the corner.

He finished his junior year completing 57% of his passes for 2,030 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Evans was effective at times but poor decisions and inconsistent play often caused the Wolfpack to sputter.

That problem wasn't just because of Evans, as Harrison Beck didn't fare any better. A transfer from Nebraska, Beck started the year off losing the position battle to Evans in fall practice but winning it back after coming in against Central Florida in the opener and tossing two touchdowns and just one pick, nearly leading the Pack to a victory. However, Beck wouldn't throw another touchdown pass all year, as he finished with two touchdown passes and nine interceptions. A midseason shoulder injury also hurt his progress, but Beck was plagued by mistakes whenever he saw the field. He will be looking to make an impression this spring... physically he has all the tools.

Reserve Justin Burke played in just three games, completing 2-of-3 passes for 15 yards with an interception.

POTENTIAL IMPACT NEWCOMERS
#16 Russell Wilson: 5'11 191 - Redshirt Freshman

Wilson is the guy who might capitalize the most on this position still being up for grabs. A shade under 6-foot and nearly 200 pounds, Wilson has a compact frame, above-average athleticism, stellar leadership skills, and a cannon for an arm.

Highly productive as a prep standout for Richmond (VA) Collegiate, Wilson passed for over 7,000 yards and 70 tocuhdown while rushing for another 33 scores in leading his team to back-to-back state championships.

"He has tremendous leadership ability."

He enrolled at NC State and promptly served as the Pack's scout team quarterback, seemingly turning heads with his play. Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien, never one to overhype his players, spoke highly of Wilson following the year.

"He has tremendous leadership ability," O'Brien said of Wilson at his season-ending press conference. "When you look at kids in the freshman class, the first name that always pops up when you talk about leadership would be him which is what you want in a quarterback.

"He has skills. He's got a strong arm. He did a nice job doing the scout team but a lot of that is running off cards so now we've got to see if he can call a play, get to the line of scrimmage and execute once the ball is snapped. Those are all things we have to find out about him. It looks like he has the temperament and ability to be a good quarterback."

On Signing Day, he again mentioned Wilson when reporters questioned him about the quarterback position and incoming recruit Mike Glennon.

"We have a pretty good freshman on campus also in Russell Wilson," O'Brien stated. "We're going to take a long look at him in spring practice, give him a lot of opportunities because we like what we've saw in him.

"I think the bottomline is with those two young kids (Wilson and Mike Glennon), that should be a pretty good position for us going forward."

Currently Wilson has walked on to the Wolfpack baseball team, but football is his No. 1 priority, and he will not miss any of spring practice as he tries to win the starting quarterback position. It appears that he will have every opportunity to do so.

IDEAL SITUATION
That's simple... someone emerges as "the guy" and wins the starting position in the spring. NC State doesn't need to head into fall practice with the quarterback position unsettled.

Should the position not
be filled, look out
for Mike Glennon to jump
right into the mix.

If one of the four guys can step up, it might be wise for O'Brien to name a starter during or at the end of spring practice so that player can receive starter repititions all fall.

It would be best for your starting quarterback to receive a ton of reps in the fall and not split valuable snaps with two or three other quarterbacks. Developing that cohesion with the rest of the starting unit is vital.

Should the position not be filled, look out for Mike Glennon to jump right into the mix... he might anyways.

POST-SPRING PREDICTIONS
Russell Wilson will showcase his talents and put himself in a good position to be NC State's starting quarterback in 2008. However, O'Brien won't name a starter, leaving the door open for Glennon to possibly make some noise this fall.


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