Evans, Wilson, or Glennon?

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State held its annual Media Day this weekend, and much of the focus centered on who would be the Wolfpack's starting quarterback for the opener against South Carolina.

A week ago, head coach Tom O'Brien narrowed the battle down to senior Daniel Evans, redshirt freshman Russell Wilson, and freshman Mike Glennon. It appears that he is no closer to name a starter.

"I don't know," said O'Brien. "Flip a coin. You'd need three coins. We'll figure it out. We still have another scrimmage to go so we're still working towards that end."

Ask any of the Wolfpack players, and they seem confident the starter, whoever it is, will get the job done.

"Everybody is doing a good job," tight end Anthony Hill said. "Everybody is playing really hard. We just have to wait until coach O'Brien makes a decision."

"They are working hard," sophomore wideout Owen Spencer stated. "Everybody has their own particular skills. Everybody is trying to get better. Whoever the starting guy is, he's going to be our leader. Coach O'Brien has that decision in his hand. We're going to roll with it."

"Any quarterback throwing to you, the ball is going to be in the air," said junior wideout Geron James. "You've got to go get it. The quarterbacks... their situation is on them. All of the quarterbacks are good. No matter what, [the wide receivers] are smiling."

"I'm going to rely on [my experience] pretty heavily."

What we know is it will be Evans, Wilson, or Glennon. NC State practices this afternoon and has a final scrimmage tomorrow before taking Wednesday off, the first day of classes. Coach O'Brien will hold his weekly press conference on Wednesday, and it could be an ideal time for him to name the starter as practice for South Carolina begins the next day.

"Hopefully it will clear itself out by Wednesday," said O'Brien.

The son of former NC State star Johnny Evans, Daniel Evans grew up in Raleigh around the NC State program. An underrated recruit out of Broughton High School, he's already exceeded any expectations placed on him when he signed with the Wolfpack in 2004. After redshirting and not seeing significant time his first two years, in 2006 Evans posted the 15th-best single season passing total in school history with 1,843 yards, even though he was the starter in just nine of the 12 games.

He opened and closed the 2007 season as the starter, passing for 2,030 yards and 11 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Evans had shoulder surgery in December and missed all of spring workouts, but battling two freshmen, he has experience on his side.

"He has a much better knowledge of the offense than the other two young kids because he's been in it," said O'Brien. "His execution, his drops and his delivering the ball on time. What he's been doing looks like a guy who's played the game of football in our system. Where the other two kids are young and very talented, but they are looking right when they should be looking left."

"I care a lot about the university, and I care a lot about this football program," Evans stated. "Personally, I don't really care about me doing well. I know that if I'm the starting quarterback, me doing well means my team is doing well.

"I'm going to rely on [my experience] pretty heavily. I think it's one of my assets that I can bring to the table. Hopefully they can make it work for me on the field."

Of the trio, Wilson was the only one to participate in spring practice. He impressed the coaching staff with his play on the scout team during his redshirt year, and he received plenty of reps in the spring. A two-sport standout, everyone raves about his leadership abilities and high-character. O'Brien knows the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder can play the game as well.

"He's a talent," said O'Brien. "He's got a strong arm, he can run... he has physical ability too. He certainly has great leadership ability. He's very positive with his outlook. I don't think anything gets him down.

"He's able to have the amnesia you need at quarterback to forget the last one and go on with the next one. [His leadership ability is] not his only good quality."

"You want to be the leader of the team. I feel good about my chances."

Wilson exudes confidence. Some may question his size and if he can play the position on the ACC level, but he has starred on every level he's played. It's not an issue to him.

"God made me this way for reason," Wilson said when asked if his height is an issue. "I may not be the tallest quarterback in the world, but God made me this way for a reason. I feel like I've got certain talents and I use them to the best of my abilities.

"You want to be the leader of the team. I feel good about my chances. I've been working hard everyday. That's the main thing. Everybody on the team has been working hard... the rest of the quarterbacks as well."

In leading Chantilly (VA) Westfield to its second consecutive unbeaten regular season, the Virginia AAA Division 6 title, and what is believed to be the first 15-0 record in state history, Glennon completed 171-of-265 passes (65%) for 2,557 yards and 32 touchdowns with just seven interceptions during his senior campaign. The 32 touchdown passes are the 11th-best single-season total in state history. For his efforts, he was named Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year, AP State Player of the Year, and first-team All-State.

The highly-rated recruit arrived at NC State this summer with plenty of experience playing in the pro-style offense preferred by O'Brien and offensive coordinator Dana Bible. During his prep career, Glennon estimates that he took "nine or 10" snaps out of the shotgun, and his familiarity with playing from under center has eased his transition into the Wolfpack's offensive system.

"I think it's a big advantage I had," said Glennon. "Not many quarterbacks in high school are under center anymore... more of a spread offense. In high school, I was pro-style and under center all the time. The transition, I wouldn't say has been easy, but I think it's been easier for me than it would be for a lot of high school quarterbacks."

With that being said, the 6-foot-7, 200-pounder is still a true freshman competing with a fifth-year senior and a redshirt freshman for the starting job.

"He's being judged under the same criteria," O'Brien stated. "If he's able to move the football team and he's the best guy for the job then he can do it. He took six hours of classes... he finally finished summer school on Tuesday. He hasn't had a lot of time to devote to football... he's doing a great job and working very hard at what he's doing. It's amazing he's been able to accomplish what he has so far given all the things we've asked of him.

"I think it speaks to what type of person he is to be able to focus – when it's academic time he's been able to handle his academics and when it's football time he's come over and handled his football duties. That's always a good thing."

"It's college football," Glennon said. "I don't think they really care what age I am. If I make a mistake, it's the same as a senior making a mistake. It's still slowing the team down."

"I'm excited. I can't wait to play in front of 90,000 people."

This isn't the first time that Glennon has had to compete for the starting job. It's just been a few years since he had to do it.

"Last time I had to compete was sophomore year of high school," he said. "I actually split time with another quarterback. I think I know what it's like to be in a competition. I know what it's like to be the man. I know what it's like to not be the man. Actually, I'm kind of used to it.

"It's exciting... it's a dream of mine. It's not a dream come true yet, but it's one step closer... to be up there. I'm not there yet by any means, but to be close, it's definitely something special. My body is probably not big enough yet, but it's all about mental toughness. I think I can take the hits. I'm excited. I can't wait to play in front of 90,000 people."

Through three scrimmages, none of them have stepped up and outright won the job.

"Whenever you do this you always hope that somebody would stand out and grab the situation and run away from the other person but that really hasn't happened right now," said O'Brien. "It's not the most ideal thing... its always better if you have someone that takes control of the position."

Some fans probably want NC State to start the experienced senior. Others may want O'Brien to choose one of the freshmen and build for the future. According to O'Brien, college eligibility won't be a factor.

"I don't think that has ever entered into the decision," he said. "You have to try to find the guy that can best execute at that position who gives yourself and your football team the chance to win. That's always been the criteria that we've had and adhered to through the years as we've gone through the quarterback situation."

Time is running out. The opener at South Carolina is just a little over a week away, and the Gamecocks are expected to have one of the top defenses in the country. Whoever the quarterback is must be ready for what will be a raucous environment in front of more than 80,000 fans.

"I think you are going to have to learn to play before a crowd sooner or later," said O'Brien. "So why not start off the bat and go do it? Maybe it's not the most ideal way you want to start as a first-year quarterback, or start at quarterback whether it be Daniel, who is not a first-year guy, or one of those two freshmen.

"It's a pretty daunting task. They are all competitors. They all want to play against the best. That's part of being at that position too... accepting challenges like that. To be the guy to go down there and play."

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