Class of 2006: First vs. Last Commits

In today's segment of this feature we take a look back at NC State's 2006 recruiting class that featured future Wolfpack standouts Nate Irving, Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams, and Josh Czajkowski.

  • Class of 2003: First vs. Last Commits
  • Class of 2004: First vs. Last Commits
  • Class of 2005: First vs. Last Commits
  • Class of 2006: First vs. Last Commits

    Players who commit early in the process generally picked up scholarship offers based on their performances at underclassmen camps or early in their high school careers. Those who commit late could be highly-rated recruits looking to take their decision up until Signing Day or under-the-radar prospects who picked up late offers. Either way, those who decide late have additional film available to coaching staffs and gives them more of a profile for the programs to base their recruiting decisions on.

    In an effort to try to determine whether commitment date has an effect on college impact, Pack Pride has decided to take a look at the first five commitments and the last five commitments from each of the last six classes (2003-08) using the Scout.com timelines.

    Today we look at the Class of 2006 that featured future Wolfpack standouts Nate Irving, Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams, and Josh Czajkowski.

    NOTE: Players who had signed in previous classes were not included in this story.

    2006 Recruiting Class
    Current star wideouts committed early and late.

    Justin Burke

    FIRST FIVE COMMITMENTS
    Josh Czajkowski ( )
    Nathan Franklin ( )
    Justin Burke ( )
    DeAndre Morgan ( )
    Owen Spencer ( )

    LAST FIVE COMMITMENTS
    Gary Gregory ( )
    Rashad Phillips ( )
    Jarvis Williams ( )
    Audi Augustin ( )
    Everett Lewis ( )

    CLASS BACKGROUND
    On paper, this class started to show the Wolfpack was slipping on the recruiting trail under Chuck Amato and his staff. For the first time under Amato, the class failed to land a four- or five-star prospect. The class was rated No. 42 nationally by Scout.com and just No. 54 overall according to Rivals.com and clearly lacked a bonafide, signature recruit.

    However, that doesn't mean some of the players in the class haven't produced. In fact, the Wolfpack's best defensive player, Nate Irving, was one of the underrated pickups in this class.

    Nate Irving

    Hailing from Wallace-Rose Hill, Irving totaled prolific numbers as a junior and senior and also did extremely well at the one combine he attended in the spring of his junior year. At the Snow Hill (NC) combine, Irving posted a solid 4.59-second 40-yard dash, a 4.32-second shuttle, and an impressive 29-inch vertical leap.

    However, only the Wolfpack and East Carolina extended scholarship offers to the in-state standout before he picked State in October of 2005.

    "A big factor was academics," Irving stated when he committed. "They have my major, and State has a really good football program. It is also close to home so my family can come watch me play.

    "It was all about education for me. State is one of the top schools around here so I figured where else could I be playing the sport I love and studying the major I love."

    After redshirting in 2006, Irving made strides in 2007 before becoming a honorable mention All-ACC performer in 2008. Despite missing three games and major snaps in two others because of an ankle injury, Irving still managed to total 73 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, four interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a sack.

    He missed the 2009 season due to injuries sustained in a car accident but appears to be on track to return to the field this spring.

    Star wide receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams were also secured in this class, along with starting kicker Josh Czajkowski. However, the class will likely be remembered more for the recruits who didn't make it in, transferred out before their eligibility expired, suffered career-ending injuries, or simply didn't produce than the few who exceeded expectations.

    FIRST vs. LAST INITIAL THOUGHTS
    The class really struggled to get going as NC State's first two "true" commitments were from kickers in the month of July. Local defensive tackle Gavin Smith committed to the Pack extremely early in the process, but he would later switch his verbal to Virginia and sign with the Cavaliers.

    West Springfield (VA) kicker Josh Czajkowski and Wilmington (NC) Hoggard's Nathan Franklin both came to camp looking to earn an offer and each left with an offer on the table. In dire need of improving its special teams, the Wolfpack accepted verbal commitments from both prospects.

    Czajkowski ended up being the real deal and Franklin only stayed a year at State. In two games during his redshirt freshman campaign, Franklin averaged 31.9 yards per punt with one downed inside the 20-yard line. He lost his starting job and transferred out of the program during the season.

    Josh Czajkowski

    Czjakowski is entering his third year as the team's starting kicker and has done a very good job handling field goals. He is considered one of the most accurate kickers in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    Looking to land a premier quarterback in the class, State offensive coordinator Marc Trestman targeted Lexington (KY) Catholic stud Justin Burke early in the spring. As a junior, Burke threw for 2,600 yards and 34 touchdowns with just four interceptions and was tabbed the top quarterback in Kentucky.

    He landed several offers before eventually narrowing his list to NC State, Purdue, Northwestern, and Kentucky. Sporting a 4.0 GPA, academics factored heavily into Burke's decision, and he was also intrigued by playing under Trestman.

    "I think coach Trestman was up there," Burke said when asked why he picked the Pack. "As I said, I got a feeling and that just took it over the top.

    "I chose N.C. State for multiple reasons. Most importantly, my family and I feel that this school will not only allow me to reach my goals on the field but as importantly, in the classroom. The rankings of both the school and the football team speak of the high quality of an opportunity that I have been blessed with, and I feel best suits me as a student-athlete."

    At the time Burke was rated the No. 6 quarterback in the country by Scout.com, but slipped in the rankings over the summer to settle in as a top-20 quarterback prospect. He had an outstanding senior season before enrolling in Raleigh, but his prep success didn't translate over at NC State.

    DeAndre Morgan

    Burke redshirted his first season before competing with Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck for the starting job in 2007. When Evans won the gig, Burke remained third-string, only to compete again for the job in 2008. After being eliminated from the battle during fall practice, he elected to transfer to Louisville where he remains on scholarship.

    Riviera Beach (FL) Suncoast defensive back DeAndre Morgan followed Burke on the commitment list when the burner decided to join his brother, DaJuan, in Raleigh. At 5'11 and 160 pounds, Morgan was undersized, but had blazing speed and made plenty of plays on film. He missed some time as a senior, but contributed early in his career at State.

    After redshirting, he started the last half of the season as a redshirt freshman and started 11 games as a sophomore. However, his junior season got off to a rocky start when he missed spring practice with a hamstring injury and sprained his ankle during fall camp. The injuries allowed freshman C.J. Wilson to show what he could do at the position and Wilson pushed Morgan for the starting job all season. Inconsistent play in the middle of the year led to Morgan losing the starting job again and a concussion ended his season.

    Earlier this month head coach Tom O'Brien announced that Morgan wouldn't be returning for his redshirt senior season.

    One player who will be back as a senior is standout wide receiver Owen Spencer. A burner from Leland, North Carolina, Spencer really flew under the recruiting radar. NC State assistant Curt Cignetti was all over Spencer early in the process but few other teams seemed to know about him, and he eventually picked the Pack over Virginia Tech.

    Owen Spencer

    In high school Spencer flashed his big-play capabilities. As a junior he caught 30 balls for 802 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging nearly 27 yards a catch. Film from that season led to his early scholarship offer with the Wolfpack coaches believing his ability to stretch the field would translate over to college football.

    They were right. Academics forced Spencer to sit out the 2006 season, but he played as a true freshman in 2007 after enrolling that spring. Then he burst on the scene in 2008 when he finished the season ranked seventh in the ACC in receiving yards per game with 53.2 and averaged 22.3 yards per catch... a new ACC and Wolfpack single-season record. The record wouldn't stand long as he broke his own mark in 2009 when he caught 30 balls for 765 yards, an average of 25.5 yards per catch which led the country.

    The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder runs terrific routes and is extremely fast, and the Wolfpack coaches were certainly right in their evaluation of him. He'll be back this fall looking to give the Pack one of the top offenses in the ACC.

    Apopka (FL) offensive lineman Gary Gregory was the first of the final five commitments to pick the Pack, and his decision was an easy one after the Wolfpack extended an offer in January. He took a mid-January official visit and committed to the Pack after landing scholarship offers from Cincinnati, New Mexico, and Wake Forest among others.

    Playing at one of the top programs in Florida, Gregory earned all-county, all-region honors, and was a Florida Class 6A All-State selection as a senior. However, he was considered extremely raw and had only played three years of football when he enrolled in Raleigh.

    Thus far Gregory has yet to see significant time on the playing field. He's had to develop his body physically and has backed up Jeraill McCuller for two seasons at right tackle. With McCuller graduating, Gregory is expected to compete for the starting right tackle spot.

    A day after Gregory's commitment State landed another verbal when Landstown (VA) tight end Rashad Phillips selected the Wolfpack. Phillips didn't focus on football until his senior year at Landstown as he mainly played basketball, but he certainly made the right decision. Starting at tight end and defensive end, Phillips finished his senior year with 23 sacks, 33 catches and six touchdowns. He also blocked five punts and returned two of them for scores.

    Rashad Phillips

    The 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect received scholarship offers from Kent State, Cincinnati, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Maryland, and NC State among others before picking the Wolfpack.

    Wolfpack assistant Manny Diaz was intrigued by the upside of Phillips and believed he could impact at tight end or defensive end for the Wolfpack. After turning heads in fall camp tragedy struck for Phillips. Heading home from Raleigh late one night, he had a car accident just a few miles from his house. In the injury he sustained a broken leg and fractured his ankle, with both injuries being serious.

    The injuries sidelined Phillips for two seasons before he was eventually awarded a medical hardship.

    Pack assistant Dwayne Dixon went down to Orlando, Florida in search of a help at wide receiver and found Jones star Jarvis Williams. At 6-foot-5 and blessed with great athleticism, Williams was a two-sport star for Jones.

    He was so good in basketball that programs like Cincinnati offered him the chance to play both sports in college. Williams eventually selected the Wolfpack over Wake Forest, Cincinnati, and Boston College, citing his relationship with coach Amato and coach Dixon as major reasons for his decision.

    Ironically, the staff at Boston College would eventually get to work with Williams. When Amato was fired and Tom O'Brien took over, they knew what they had in Williams, a player they heavily pursued.

    After redshirting his first season Williams has been a major contributor and in 2009 he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in touchdown receptions.

    Everett Lewis

    State would pick up two commitments on Signing Day in 2006 with both coming from the state Florida in Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas defensive back Everett Lewis and Oakland Park Northeast defensive end Audi Augustin.

    The signing of Lewis was a complete surprise. Nothing ever leaked publicly that NC State was even recruiting the 5'11, 180-pounder, but the Wolfpack had been in pursuit since the spring of his junior year. The issue with Lewis was always academics. Playing at one of the top programs in the country, he led the team in tackles as a junior before moving to cornerback for his senior season.

    NC State was impressed with his ability and signed him under the assumption that if he failed to qualify he would matriculate to Hargrave Military Academy. Lewis really flew under the radar because he didn't have strong academics, and he failed to qualify academically in 2006. He also never enrolled at Hargrave, and would never make it to NC State.

    Audi Augustin will be entering his redshirt senior season this fall and was arguably the Pack's top pickup in the 2006 class. With over thirty scholarship offers, Augustin's recruitment extended until Signing Day with him eventually selecting the Wolfpack over Pittsburgh.

    "It was just what those two schools had to offer," Augustin said after inking with NC State. "I didn't even need to visit the others. I went ahead and told the other schools that they weren't for me, and started to focus and follow NC State and Pitt."

    "Audi is a very mature kid and a terrific football player," said Northeast head coach Adam Ratkevich. "He generated so much interest after the spring and picked up a lot of scholarship offers.

    Audi Augustin

    "But early in the process I think he saw what he liked in NC State and Pittsburgh, and he went from there. They are two very strong programs, and I think he would [have] fit both of them well."

    NC State was one of those programs that offered Augustin after watching him during spring practices. He took official visits to both NC State and Pittsburgh before he made his final decision on Signing Day.

    "I probably made my decision around 3 am on Signing Day," said Augustin. "It was just the players at NC State. That helped me make my decision because they made me feel good about the school. I felt real comfortable with the players, coaching staff... everybody."

    He redshirted as a true freshman and has mainly been a reserve defensive end his first three seasons on the gridiron for the Wolfpack. With seniors Shea McKeen and Willie Young graduating, Augustin is expected to start in 2010.

    FIRST vs. LAST FINAL THOUGHTS
    In this class the Wolfpack had some hits and misses early and late, which really proved to be the case with the 2006 class overall.

    State landed three year-starters in Czajkowski and Spencer early, and DeAndre Morgan also contributed for three years as well.

    However, Franklin and Burke failed to make considerable contributions and left the program as underclassmen.

    The final five commitments had two players, Everett Lewis and Rashard Phillips, who never played a down for the Wolfpack. Lewis couldn't make it in to school academically, and Phillips was so severely injured in a car wreck that he was forced to take a medical hardship. Gary Gregory has remained in the program and has been a reserve along the offensive line, but he has played just 61 snaps in his career.

    Like Gregory, Augustin has mainly been a reserve, but he has a chance to really make a name for himself this fall with the starting defensive end positions up for grabs. In limited time he's flashed the ability to pressure the quarterback and is flying a little under the radar right now.

    Jarvis Williams

    State hit the jackpot with Williams, and kudos to Chuck Amato and Dwayne Dixon for finding him in Orlando, Florida. At nearly 6-foot-5, Williams has the ability to make plays in the air and is also a solid deep threat. He complements Spencer extremely well by working against defenders underneath and coming up with a lot of pressure catches for the Wolfpack. He led the team in receptions with 45 for 547 yards and also recorded a league-high 11 touchdown grabs.

    Williams was the only receiver in the ACC to total double-digit touchdown catches, and having him and Spencer back will give the NC State offense the top set of returning wideouts in the conference.

    This class proves that both early and late evaluations can often make-or-break your recruiting classes. State had Josh Czajkowski in camp, and he put on a show competing for a scholarship offer. Amato reportedly brought over a group of players to taunt, heckle, and attempt to distract Czajkowski, but it didn't matter as he drilled kick-after-kick. At the time, State held a comfortable lead for Franklin and most fans believed he would be the kicker in the class so it was a little surprising at the time when State also landed Czajkowski.

    The same can be said of Spencer who was one of the first in-state prospects to land an offer from State. He picked up the offer at Junior Day, and although other schools hadn't offered it didn't prevent the Pack from attempting to land an early commitment from Spencer.

    As previously mentioned, State's coaches believed Spencer's physical abilities would easily translate to the college level, and they were definitely correct.

    In the 2006 class NC State had recruits never make it on campus, suffer career-ending injuries while on campus, not cut it academically, choose to transfer, kicked off the team, and simply withdraw from school. When recruiting, those types of situations are unpredictable. What you're looking to do is bring in a class of recruits who can develop into solid football players... major contributors.

    On Signing Day NC State failed to land a four or five-star prospect for the first time in years. However, looking back State picked up signatures from an All-ACC linebacker (Nate Irving), one of the most accurate kickers in the conference (Josh Czajkowski), arguably the top deep threat in college football (Owen Spencer), and a three-year starter at wideout who has proven he can make plays in the endzone (Jarvis Williams).

    Those are the kind of recruits you're hoping to ink.




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