The Wolfpacker

July 2013 Football Preview

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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The Time Is Now Football 2013 Asa Watson Is The Lone Veteran In A Young Group Of Tight Ends N By Jacey Zembal C State will have a fresh look at tight end this fall with fifthyear senior Asa Watson leading the way. The Wolfpack has only three scholarship tight ends, which could open the door for a contributing walk-on if needed. Redshirt sophomore Benson Browne and redshirt freshman David J. Grinnage round out the trio. Browne and Grinnage received extra reps this past spring while Watson nursed a minor injury. The unit lost senior Anthony Talbert, who graduated and elected to transfer to Ohio for his final year of eligibility. Quick Facts Position Coach: Eddie Faulkner (1st season) Returning Starters: None Starter Lost: Mario Carter (15 career starts) FYI: Phil Steele's ranked fifth-year senior Asa Watson as the No. 11 overall tight end in the country and selected him to its third-team AllACC squad … NC State lost Anthony Talbert a year early when he transferred back home to Ohio after graduating from NC State, but his departure will open up more playing time for redshirt sophomore Benson Browne and redshirt freshman David J. Grinnage … Browne, a Rivals. com three-star prospect, caught five passes for 65 yards and a touchdown in his senior year at Cincinnati Walnut Hills, where he also played basketball … ranked Grinnage as a twostar prospect and the No. 2 player in Delaware … Grinnage also played defensive end, linebacker and wide receiver in high school … The tight ends and fullbacks combined to sport a collective 3.1 grade-point average, which was the highest out of any position groups. The speedy 6-3, 237-pound Watson enjoyed his best season last year, starting five games when the Wolfpack opened up in two-tight-end sets. Watson caught 24 passes for 282 yards and his first career touchdown. New tight ends coach Eddie Faulkner envisions Watson being a key leader and productive all-around player for the Wolfpack in his final season. "Asa has all the talent in the world and is a hard worker," Faulkner said. "Everything is right about him as far as intangibles. I didn't get the chance to work with him real long in the spring because he got injured, but he's a leader." Watson took redshirt during the 2011 season after undergoing heart surgery. The year off allowed him to get healthy and become bigger and stronger. He arrived at NC State around 215 pounds. "He's going to be a pivotal part of what we do and play most of the game," "Asa has all the talent in the world and is a hard worker. Everything is right about him as far as intangibles." ■ Tight ends coach Eddie Faulkner Faulkner said. NC State's offense is full of different personnel groups. For instance, the Wolfpack could play three or four wide receivers at the expense of a fullback or tight end. The emergence of a second tight end to pair with Watson, allowing for even more variety in the team's offensive sets, will be a key for fall camp. "Tight end is a position that you can create matchup problems like any other position," Faulkner said. "If you have three tight ends in the game, and you are a defensive coordinator, you are playing for the run. We want to have the ability to put three ■ Preseason Analysis **** Among country's best; *** Among ACC's best; ** Solid or has potential; * Too Unproven Starters ** Fifth-year senior tight end Asa Watson has seemingly been around the program forever.The younger brother of NFL tight end Ben Watson, Asa was injured for most of the spring. He's missed time in previous spring practices, but also has had two strong performances in the Kay Yow Spring Game over the years, where he has showed off his breakaway speed. Watson will get the full opportunity to emerge this season. Experience ** Watson has been splitting time at tight end in three of the last four years, having redshirted in 2011 after undergoing minor heart surgery. He started five games in two-tight-end sets with Mario Carter last year, going from two career receptions to 26. NCSU was hoping Anthony Talbert would supply another experienced tight end, but he elected to transfer to Ohio. Depth * NC State has a pair of unproven tight ends behind Watson in redshirt sophomore Benson Browne and redshirt freshman David J. Grinnage. Both possess good size, and Grinnage moved past Browne on the post-spring depth chart. The Wolfpack has made sure to fortify the position by adding class of 2014 verbal commitments Garrett Bradbury, Micah Till and Cole Cook. Overall grade ** The trio of Watson, Browne and Grinnage will be one of the storylines to watch this season. NC State has been spoiled over the years with good tight end play. Watson and at least one of the two young tight ends will need to come through this season.Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pedersen caught 27 passes for 355 yards and four touchdowns in coordinator Matt Canada's offense last year, giving Watson some goals to shoot for. Tight End Roster Starter No.Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 82 Asa Watson 5th-Sr. 6-3 237 Rock Hill, S.C. The speedy Watson has started five games and played in 35, catching 26 career passes for 310 yards and a score. Reserves No.Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 89 Benson Browne R-So. 6-5 253Cincinnati Browne played in 12 of 13 games last season, but mostly on special teams. 86 David J. Grinnage R-Fr. 6-5 257 Newark, Del. Grinnage redshirted last year, and was named the offensive scout team player of the week prior to the South Alabama contest. Waiting In The Wings No.Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 83 Lucas Wilson Fr. 6-4 240 Winston-Salem, N.C. The preferred walk-on was offered Division I scholarships prior to his senior season, but then missed time with injury. 68  ■  the wolfpacker 68-70.TEs.indd 68 7/1/13 9:32 AM

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