The Wolfpacker

July 2013 Football Preview

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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A Committee Approach Football 2013 Tony Creecy And Shadrach Thornton Are Expected To Lead The Ground Attack N By Jacey Zembal C State learned last year it can never have too many running backs. The Wolfpack entered the season with three key running backs returning from the 2011 campaign, but a fourth player ended up seizing the feature back role — freshman Shadrach Thornton. Senior James Washington was lost to a devastating season-ending knee injury and played in only four games, while sophomore Mustafa Greene was in and out of trouble and kicked off the team after playing in two games. Current redshirt junior Tony Creecy and Thornton split the job duties, but even Creecy had some nagging injuries and missed two contests. The 6-1, 203-pound Thornton shed his potential redshirt status and rushed for 694 yards and three touchdowns on 154 carries in 10 games. He also added 30 catches for 274 yards and a score. The 5-11, 210-pound Creecy added 476 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 127 carries, plus he pulled down 34 Running Back Roster Starters No.Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 26 Tony Creecy R-Jr. 5-11 210 Durham, N.C. In 11 games last season, Creecy rushed for 476 yards and five touchdowns on 127 carries, and caught 34 passes for 182 yards and a score. 49 Tyler Purvis R-Jr. 6-2 229 Reinholds, Pa. Former walk-on earned a scholarship and has caught five passes for 36 yards and two scores while playing in 20 games at fullback in his career. Reserves No.Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 10 Shadrach Thornton So. 6-1 203 Hinesville, Ga. Thornton shed his redshirt to start four out of 10 games. He rushed for 694 yards and three scores on 154 carries, and caught 30 passes for 274 yards and a score. R-Jr. 6-1 240 Thomaston, Ga. 44 Logan Winkles Winkles has caught 10 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns in his Wolfpack career. He has overcome a serious knee injury, though he missed this past spring due to suspension. Waiting In The Wings No.Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 30 Uche Awuruonye So. 5-8 195 Charlotte Awuruonye is a walk-on running back who had four carries for five yards in the Kay Yow Spring Game. 38 Taylor Beamon R-Jr. 5-8 188 Charlotte Beamon is a walk-on running back. 21 Matt Dayes Fr. 5-9 190 Weston, Fla. ranked him as a three-star prospect, the No. 57 overall player in Florida and the No. 27 running back in the country. 33 Josh Mercer Fr. 5-11 190 Guyton, Ga. rated him a three-star prospect, the No. 79 overall player in Georgia and the No. 53 running back nationally. R-Jr. 5-9 193 Burlington, N.C. 41 Milton Hall The walk-on running back had 18 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown, and caught one pass for 16 yards, in the Kay Yow Spring Game last April. 34 Ben Grazen Fr. 5-10 175 Cary, N.C. Grazen is a preferred walk-on running back. 27 Dakwa Nichols Fr. 5-10 182 Rockingham, N.C. The speedy three-star prospect can also make plays in the passing and return game. 49 Devin O'Connor R-Fr. 6-3 224 Cartersville, Ga. O'Connor is a walk-on fullback, and he also might spend some time at tight end. receptions for 189 yards and a score. Washington, Greene and seldom-used Brandon Barnes have moved on, while Creecy and Thornton should be able to form a strong 1-2 punch. In his Wolfpack career, Creecy has rushed for 858 yards and six touchdowns on 230 carries, and has also caught 59 passes for 346 yards and four scores. He rushed for 120 yards and a score on 19 carries against Miami, but managed more than 49 yards in only two other games. "Creecy had a better spring than last fall," said running backs coach Des Kitchings, who coached with the Wolfpack last year. "He has really stepped up to be a vocal leader. This is probably the healthiest he has been with his turf toe." Thornton broke loose in his first game, against The Citadel, with 145 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, and also had four catches for 26 yards. He proved that wasn't a fluke when he ripped off 0 4 5 ■ By The Numbers Carries by an NC State fullback during the Tom O'Brien era. Games in which Tony Creecy caught at least four passes last year, including a season-high seven receptions for 38 yards in the upset win over Florida State. Contests in which NC State's running backs cracked the 100-yard mark in 2012, with Shadrach Thornton achieving it in four of them and Tony Creecy in one. Quick Facts Running Backs Coach: Des Kitchings (2nd season) Fullbacks Coach: Eddie Faulkner (1st season) Returning Starters: RB Tony Creecy (8 career starts) and FB Logan Winkles (5) Starters Lost: None FYI: Phil Steele's and Athlon both ranked NC State's running back unit No. 8 in the ACC … Phil Steele's projected NC State to rush for 128.4 yards per game this season … Freshman running backs Matt Dayes, Josh Mercer and Dakwa Nichols will fight it out to be the third-string running back … Dayes rushed for more than 150 yards in every game his senior year, leading Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay High to the Florida 8A championship game … Dayes totaled 1,864 yards and 31 touchdowns on 237 carries last year … Mercer tallied 1,479 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns on 247 carries his senior year at Guyton (Ga.) South Effingham High … Nichols helped Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond Senior High go 11-2 and reach the state quarterfinals last year … Nichols rushed for 1,094 yards and 14 touchdowns on 91 carries … Winkles injured his knee during practices leading up to the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl and redshirted in 2011… Redshirt junior fullback Tyler Purvis' older brother, Ryan Purvis, played at Boston College and was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-11. 60  ■  the wolfpacker 60-62.RBs.indd 60 7/1/13 9:31 AM

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