The Wolfpacker

March 2013 - Signing Day Edition

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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2013 football recruiting issue Who Will Play Early? T These Five Signees Have Good Opportunities To Get On The Field In 2013 By Matt Carter om O���Brien preferred to redshirt as many players as possible, but also was unafraid to play a signee even if just for a special teams role. This fall, NC State fans will get a chance to see how Dave Doeren approaches redshirting versus playing true freshmen. There are several signees that will have a good chance of seeing playing time in 2013. Lack of depth at wide receiver and running back in particular opens the door for some of the incoming players to get on the field as true freshmen. Here are five candidates to play early at NC State this fall. 1. Running back Matt Dayes Dayes is arguably the most touted NC State recruit in the class, and he is also coming into a running back situation with only two returning scholarship players ��� rising redshirt junior Tony Creecy and rising sophomore Shadrach Thornton. Dayes ran for 1,864 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior at the highest classification level in Florida (8A), leading Weston���s Cypress Bay High into the state final. That kind of production against that level of competition suggests Dayes may be ready more quickly than others to get playing time. The 5-9, 190-pounder runs low to the ground, has good vision, and shows good balance and cutting abilities in the open field to make would-be tacklers miss. It was those qualities that made Dayes, an early NC State commitment, a hot commodity in December and January when he briefly opened his recruitment up to consider other schools following the coaching change. 2. Offensive lineman Ali Kassem You don���t typically sign a junior college offensive lineman with the intention of having him stand on the sideline. At the very minimum, Kassem, who does not have a redshirt season available to him, will have a chance to compete for playing time. The most important thing for Kassem is to trim down. Listed on the signing day class release at 6-7 and 350 pounds, Doeren has confessed that 350 is actually where they want Kassem to be by the start of preseason camp. To do that, he would need to lose about 30 pounds. Kassem tipped the scale at 380 pounds during his official visit to NC State on the weekend of Feb. 1. Kassem was recruited to play guard, which is his natural position on the line. That also happens to be where NC State is replacing departing starters R.J. Mattes and Zach Allen. When Allen went down with an injury, Andrew Wallace, another senior on the 2012 team, replaced him for the final four games. Kassem will compete with rising fifthyear senior Duran Christophe and rising redshirt junior Cameron Fordham for playing time at the guard positions. 3. Running back Josh Mercer The speedster offers a change of pace to the running style of Dayes, who brings power and quickness to the position. Mercer is a track star who rushed for more than 2,800 yards and 43 touchdowns the past two seasons. It���s unlikely that NC State will want to have just three scholarship running backs suiting up next fall. The 2012 season is proof of the need to have more than that when injuries sidelined Creecy and James Washington while Mustafa Greene was benched for disciplinary reasons that ultimately led to his dismissal. That forced NC State to turn to Thornton and the seldom-used Brandon Barnes. Thornton had been the fifth-string running back at the start of the year and was planning to redshirt. Thus there will be a likely need for two running backs to play as true freshmen, and Mercer was considered one of the top running backs in the state of Georgia. He has been timed as fast as 10.66 seconds in the 100-meter dash. 4. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes NC State has just five returning scholarship receivers from the 2012 season, and for a team that is likely to install some spread principles in its new offense, that���s a scary proposition. Thus the Pack signed six wideouts, a number that includes West Virginia transfer Travares Copeland who has to sit out next season per NCAA rules. Of the remaining five wide receivers, Valdes may be the most polished of the group. The 6-3, 201-pounder was reportedly timed at less than 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash Marquez Valdes, a three-star wide receiver from St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood High, pulled in 24 catches for 444 yards and six touchdowns in his senior season. photo courtesy last summer at a Florida State camp. He���s also a true receiver. NCSU���s other recruits at wide receiver may be a bit more raw at the position than Valdes, who picked NCSU over offers from South Florida, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Arkansas and Minnesota, among others. Given Valdes��� size and speed, he may be physically ready to take on the demands of college football. 5. Safety Josh Jones The competition is pretty open at safety if rising senior Dontae Johnson remains at cornerback. Four-year starters and All-ACC players Brandan Bishop and Earl Wolff are gone after exhausting their eligibility. Rising redshirt sophomores Hakim Jones and Tim Buckley, and rising redshirt freshmen J.J. Jones and Josh Sessoms, all return, but only Hakim Jones has much playing experience. Josh Jones saw a noticeable rise in his stock after his senior season. He jumped 16 places in the safety rankings from No. 45 to 29 when the final list came out. He was also elevated to the No. 8 prospect from the state of Michigan. Jones is a big safety at 6-2 and 202 pounds, and he was productive on both sides of the ball as a senior. Defensively, he was credited with 95 tackles, five interceptions and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns. ��� 48��� ������ the wolfpacker 48.Five Likely To Play.indd 48 2/26/13 1:13 PM

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