The Wolfpacker

July-August 2020 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 44 of 51

JULY/AUGUST 2020 ■ 45 Heated Competition BY MATT CARTER N ew cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell is going to have a lot of options when everyone in his position room is fully healthy. Injuries decimated the unit in 2019, with Nick McCloud, Chris Ingram, Teshaun Smith and Taiyon Palmer all missing most of the year. That group arguably made up four of NC State's top five corners going into the season. McCloud has left as a graduate transfer to Notre Dame, but Ingram (now a senior), Smith (junior) and Palmer (redshirt sophomore) all re- turn. So does redshirt sophomore Malik Dunlap, who started five games in place of the injured cor- ners. Athletic sophomore Cecil Powell saw action on both sides of the ball, but has now settled in at corner. Throw in four-star class of 2019 signee Shyheim Battle, who picked NC State over Clemson and then redshirted, and early enrollee Devan Boykin, singled out by head coach Dave Doeren for his work in the abbreviated spring practices, and the options start becoming plentiful for Mitchell. Ingram may be NC State's most established corner. He has 19 career starts to his credit, plus three interceptions and 15 passes broken up in his career. Dunlap, a physically imposing 6-3, 216-pounder, finished last season with 20 tackles and seven passes broken up. Smith started two games as a true freshman and the first two con- tests of 2019. Powell had 16 tackles and four catches for 30 yards while playing offense and defense as a rookie. BY THE NUMBERS 3 Cornerbacks signed by NC State that had offers from Clemson — senior Chris In- gram, redshirt sophomore Taiyon Palmer and redshirt freshman Shyheim Battle. 4 Interceptions by the Wolfpack last season, tied for the fewest among 130 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the lowest total of any Power Five team. 6 Scholarship cornerbacks listed at 6-0 or taller on the roster. CORNERBACKS PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN ■ PRESEASON ANALYSIS ★★★★ Among country's best; ★★★ Among ACC's best; ★★ Solid or has potential; ★ Too unproven STARTERS ★★ There is good potential, but health will play a role. All the corners were expected to be cleared by sum- mer and in time for preseason camp. How long it takes to get back into playing shape is another matter. On paper, senior Chris Ingram is a nice starting point at corner and there are good, intriguing op- tions to join him. DEPTH ★★½ Based on the early reviews of redshirt fresh- man Shyheim Battle and early enrollee fresh- man Devan Boykin, it looks like new cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell will have at least seven players that could contend for spots on the depth chart. EXPERIENCE ★★★ Ingram, junior Teshaun Smith and redshirt sopho- more Malik Dunlap all have at least four career starts to their credit, while sophomore Cecil Pow- ell and redshirt sophomore Taiyon Palmer both received playing time a year ago. That is five options where experience is not really an issue. OVERALL ★★ There is some intrigue with the corners based on their experiences, but there are a couple of keys for them to earn a higher grade. First is simply better luck on the injury front. Second is starting to become reliable playmakers in coverage. Stopping the pass has been a consis - tent problem for NC State over the past few years. PROJECTED DEPTH CHART STARTERS No. Name Year Ht. Wt. Hometown 24 Malik Dunlap R-So. 6-3 216 Charlotte, N.C. 7 Chris Ingram Sr. 6-0 186 Salisbury, N.C. RESERVES 25 Shyheim Battle R-Fr. 6-2 183 Rocky Mount, N.C. 3 Taiyon Palmer R-So. 5-11 185 Lawrenceville, Ga. 19 Cecil Powell So. 6-1 191 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 8 Teshaun Smith Jr. 6-3 191 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. WAITING IN THE WINGS 12 Devan Boykin Fr. 5-10 175 Greensboro, N.C. — Aydan White Fr. 6-2 170 Asheville, N.C. Ingram committed to NC State on July 26, 2015, weeks before he was set to begin his junior year in high school. He was the first player that head coach Dave Doeren landed in the 2017 class. By that point, the product of Mooresville (N.C.) High already had offers from Clemson, Duke, Maryland, Nebraska and North Carolina, among others. That made expectations high for Ingram, and he has not disappointed. He emerged as a full- time corner in week two as a sophomore and had started 18 straight games before suffering a knee injury in the win over Syracuse last year. Ingram notched a team-high nine passes broken up in 2018 and led NC State with two picks in 2019 despite missing half the year due to injury. SPOTLIGHT PLAYER SENIOR CHRIS INGRAM

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