The Wolfpacker

September 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 45 of 95

Stepping Up E Five Wolfpackers Who Could Be On The Verge Of A Breakout Campaign 2012By Ryan Tice very year, college football teams across the country have to replace some of their best players from the previous year's roster when players graduate and move on to the NFL. NC State is no different after seeing a trio of players selected in the NFL Draft and a total of 12 starters depart. In fact, the Wolfpack brings back the fewest number of returning starters in the ACC with just 12 in head coach Dave Doeren's first year, so there are several vacant roles that inexperienced players will have to fill. Here's a rundown of five players that The Wolfpacker believes are set to step up this fall, three of whom enter their final year of eligibility with a sense of urgency. ■ WR Rashard Smith The 5-9, 177-pound dynamo proved himself to be a difference maker last year, despite it being his first full season at wide receiver. The former cornerback hauled in five touchdowns and averaged 16.5 yards on his 19 catches, while he also emerged as a playmaker in the return game — he returned 32 punts for 294 yards, the sixth-highest total in program history, and notched a 73-yard touchdown return against The Citadel. Doeren has mentioned that Smith will be in the running to replace the graduated Tobais Palmer as the kickoff returner, and he opened fall camp as the starter at the "Z" wide receiver spot, in addition to his punt returning duties. The new NCSU offense should take advantage of his abilities to make plays in space, and he seems perfectly tailored to explode in his final year of eligibility with the new system. Smith, a fifth-year senior, has also really emerged as a leader for this young team, and he has the coaches' trust — when they had to pick a pair of players to represent the team at the ACC's media day in Greensboro, the wide receiver was picked to attend along with cornerback Dontae Johnson. He was also one of three receivers elected to the team's Leadership Council and played a huge role in organizing player-run workouts this offseason. ■ S Jarvis Byrd In 2012, his first full season at wide receiver, fifth-year senior Rashard Smith hauled in five touchdowns and averaged 16.5 yards on his 19 catches. photo by ken martin Byrd showed immense potential as a true freshman cornerback who was pressed into starting duty during the 2009 season before he tore his ACL against North Carolina. Byrd returned to the field in 2011 and was projected to reclaim his starting position, and then he tore his other ACL in a non-contact injury suffered while walking back to the 46  ■  the wolfpacker 46,48.FB Five Breakout Players.indd 46 8/23/13 3:07 PM

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