The Wolfpacker

July-August 2020 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 37 of 51

38 ■ THE WOLFPACKER WIDE RECEIVERS More Playmaking Needed BY JUSTIN H. WILLIAMS N C State returns its three starters in senior Emeka Emezie, redshirt junior Thayer Thomas and redshirt sophomore Devin Carter. The trio combined for 119 catches, 1,366 receiving yards and five scores last season. The only notable loss is Tabari Hines, who finished third on the team in receiving yards (402) as a fifth-year senior in 2019. Fifth-year senior C.J. Riley also returns this fall and was the Wolfpack's starting X receiver — the role Carter took on — to begin the year before suffering an ACL tear in the opener, which caused him to miss the remainder of the season. NC State's class of 2020 included five receivers and is highlighted by consensus four-star Porter Rooks of Charlotte, N.C., who has the talent to contribute immediately. The 6-1, 185-pounder was ranked as the nation's No. 195 overall recruit by after he hauled in 170 passes for 2,424 yards and 34 touchdowns during his prep career. Improvement through the air will be key for the Wolfpack this fall, and increasing production at wide receiver is a primary focus of the offseason. "Our playmakers have to make plays for the quarterback," head coach Dave Doeren said. "You can go back to Ryan Finley — how many times were circus catches made that changed our field position?" While inconsistent accuracy at the quarterback position pre- sented a problem for the Pack in 2019, the wide receivers share some responsibility for the pass- ing offense's down year. Aside from redshirt sophomore Jasiah Provillon, who had only 21 targets thrown his way last season (caught 13, 61.9 percent), none of the Pack's returning re- ceivers achieved a completion rate above 55.0 percent on their respective targets. Emezie hauled in 56 of 106 throws for 52.8 per- cent, Carter secured 32 of 60 for 53.3 percent and Thomas held on to 31 of 67 for 46.3 percent. BY THE NUMBERS 55 Yards on NC State's lon- gest completed pass in 2019, throw by redshirt sophomore Devin Leary and hauled in by classmate Devin Carter against Boston College. 7.4 Keyon Lesane's team- leading yards after catch average in 2019, good for 88th out of 590 FBS receivers with at least 20 targets. 11 Less Wolfpack receiving touchdowns in 2019 (14) than the team had in 2018 (25). SPOTLIGHT PLAYER SENIOR EMEKA EMEZIE Emezie, a 6-3, 210-pound former three-star recruit from Waxhaw, N.C., enters his senior season after leading the Wolfpack in recep- tions (56) and receiving yards (576) in 2019. Despite setting a new best in catches last season, Emezie saw his production drop from the year prior in receiving yards (616 in 2018) and touchdowns (five in 2018, two in 2019). In 37 career appearances and 23 starts, Emezie has hauled in 122 passes for 1,671 yards and eight scores. He is tied for 13th in school history for career grabs and is ranked 17th in receiving yards. He ended last year with a catch in 20 straight games, the 10th- longest such streak in program annals. PROJECTED DEPTH CHART STARTERS No. Name Year Ht. Wt. Hometown 88 Devin Carter R-So. 6-4 212 Clayton, N.C. 86 Emeka Emezie Sr. 6-3 210 Waxhaw, N.C. 87 Thayer Thomas R-Jr. 6-0 195 Wake Forest, N.C. RESERVES 82 Max Fisher R-Jr. 6-2 202 Upper Marlboro, Md. 85 Keyon Lesane So. 6-0 194 Lumberton, N.C. 84 Jasiah Provillon R-So. 6-3 208 Irvington, N.J. 19 C.J. Riley 5th-Sr. 6-4 211 Coconut Creek, Fla. 14 Porter Rooks Fr. 6-1 185 Charlotte, N.C. WAITING IN THE WINGS 21 Jalen Coit Fr. 5-11 150 Cheraw, S.C. — Josh Crabtree Fr. 6-3 198 Wake Forest, N.C. — Christopher Scott Jr. Fr. 6-0 160 Dacula, Ga. — Anthony Smith Fr. 6-1 185 Huntingtown, Md. 29 Christopher Toudle R-Fr. 6-3 222 Wilmington, N.C. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN ■ PRESEASON ANALYSIS ★★★★ Among country's best; ★★★ Among ACC's best; ★★ Solid or has potential; ★ Too unproven STARTERS ★★ The expected returning starting trio of senior Emeka Emezie, redshirt sophomore Devin Carter and redshirt junior Thayer Thomas should improve in terms of production from last season based on a greater familiarity with starting quarterback Devin Leary. Don't be surprised to see fifth-year senior C.J. Riley or hotshot rookie Porter Rooks in the starting lineup either. The 6-4 Riley, who will have a sixth year of eligi- bility in 2021, has 37 career catches and is reportedly one of the fastest players on the team, while Rooks was the jewel of the incoming recruiting class. DEPTH ★½ Riley's ACL tear in the 2019 season opener set the Pack back in receiver depth in week one last year. With his return, along with the addition of Rooks, NC State should have game-ready options at receiver beyond its starters. Redshirt sophomore Jasiah Provillon, sophomore Keyon Lesane and redshirt junior Max Fisher strengthen the ro- tation as reserves with playing experience from last year (18 combined catches). EXPERIENCE ★★½ Three of the Wolfpack's primary receivers will be upperclassmen in Emezie, Thomas and Riley. However, due to NC State's load of talent at the position in 2017 and 2018, last season was the first for Thomas and Carter as regular starters. Leading up to last year, the position group only had 15 career starts, 12 of which belonged to Emezie. A full season of starting experience for Thomas and Carter now gives the receivers 48 combined starts, vital experience that will help this year. OVERALL ★★ The Wolfpack is in a better position with depth and experience at the position than it was last year. The returning presence of the three starters combined with the collec- tion of young talent arriving at the position offers an upward trajectory for the group. However, the receivers still have a lot to prove this fall after a disappointing 2019.

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