The Wolfpacker

July-August 2022

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 29 of 59

30 ■ THE WOLFPACKER Continuing The QBU Tradition BY MATT CARTER N C State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tim Beck has very few questions in his room, and none revolve around the starter. Fifth-year redshirt junior Devin Leary returns for what will be his fourth year starting games at NC State. Leary has trans- formed himself from a rookie in 2019 struggling to find his comfort zone against ACC teams to arguably the conference's best quarterback. Over the past two seasons, Leary has gone 12-3 as a starter, including 9-2 in ACC contests, twice defeating ranked league foes. The lone questions about Leary are can he stay healthy all year, and if he does will this be his last season in Raleigh? The more significant questions at quarterback relate to what's behind Leary. Third-year redshirt freshman Ben Finley has played in five games over the past two years and completed 18 of 28 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown with 2 intercep- tions. His experience in the NC State offense gives Finley an initial edge in the battle to back up Leary, Beck acknowledged. Two newcomers may challenge him. Former Charleston Southern all-conference quarterback Jack Chambers decided to walk on at NC State in the summer for his super senior year. The 5-10, 180-pound Chambers completed 230 of 417 passes last season for 2,490 yards and 17 touch- downs with 10 picks, and he rushed for 477 yards and 7 more scores. MJ Morris was rated the No. 27 quarterback nationally in the 2022 class according to the On3 Consensus after he completed 186 of 295 passes for 3,089 yards and 33 touchdowns with 9 picks. He also ran 109 times for 602 yards and 7 more scores in 14 games for his 12-2 Carrollton (Ga.) High squad. QUARTERBACKS ■ POSITIONAL GRADES ★★★★ Among country's best; ★★★ Among ACC's best; ★★ Solid or has potential; ★ Too unproven STARTER ★★★★ Fifth-year redshirt junior Devin Leary threw for 3,433 yards and 35 touchdowns with just 5 in- terceptions last season. Leary is one of only five college football quarterbacks in the past 15 years to throw for 35 or more touchdown passes and 3,400 yards while completing at least 65 percent of his passes and toss 5 or fewer interceptions. EXPERIENCE ★★★ Leary started seven games in the 2019 season, three in 2020 while playing in four contests overall before breaking his leg, and then all 12 contests this past fall. The last two seasons have come under the tutelage of NC State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tim Beck, who is returning for his third year with the Wolfpack. DEPTH★★ The starting position is well established at an enviable level among college football teams. Less established is who is next. Super senior Jack Chambers offers intrigue as a walk-on addition, while third-year redshirt freshman Ben Finley has experi - ence in Beck's offense. True freshman MJ Morris is a high-upside, athletic quarterback who picked NC State over offers from Georgia Tech and Nebraska. OVERALL GRADE ★★★½ The question of depth is the only reason that this position group did not receive a four-star grade. BY THE NUMBERS 3 Number of quarterbacks besides Devin Leary who have thrown for at least 30 touchdowns in a single season at NC State — Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon. All three have played at least eight seasons in the NFL. 90.8 Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade for Leary in red zone passing last season, third best among Power Five quarterbacks. 405 Yards passing that Jack Chambers threw for Charleston Southern in a loss at East Carolina on Sept. 25, 2021. Chambers completed 38 of 61 passes, including 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception while also rushing 23 times for 67 yards and another score. PROJECTED DEPTH CHART STARTERS No. Name Year Ht. Wt. Hometown 13 Devin Leary R-Jr. 6-1 215 Sicklerville, N.J. RESERVES No. Name Year Ht. Wt. Hometown 14 Jack Chambers R-Sr. 5-10 180 Lilburn, Ga. 10 Ben Finley R-Fr. 6-3 205 Phoenix, Ariz. 16 MJ Morris Fr. 6-2 192 Carrollton, Ga. SPOTLIGHT PLAYER REDSHIRT FRESHMAN BEN FINLEY Near the end of spring practices, NC State head coach Dave Doeren took the measure of how much third-year redshirt freshman Ben Finley had improved in a year's time. "Night and day different from last spring with him," Doeren said. "I think he's got a really quick release. He's very mobile. "The process has slowed down for him mentally. He was almost self-defeating last year. He would have a bad play, and it would carry with him. He's learned how to go to the next play and just move on." The 6-3, 205-pound Finley is the younger brother of former NC State starting quarterback and NFL player Ryan Finley. The Finley family is an athletic one. Mother Robin was a tennis player at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, while father Pat was a two-sport participant, football and baseball, at the same school. Ryan Finley threw for 10,505 yards as a three-year starter under Doeren, piling up the second-most passing yards in school history. Ben Finley is hoping to follow in his brother's footsteps. The younger Finley was the first commitment in the 2020 class, and this season could go a long way to determining his future in Raleigh. BEN FINLEY PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE ATHLETICS

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