The Wolfpacker

September 2015

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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SEPTEMBER 2015 ■ 25 BY JACEY ZEMBAL T he NC State offense is looking for playmakers in the passing game, and redshirt junior tight end Da- vid J. Grinnage has the potential to help fill that void. The 6-5, 265-pound Grinnage has caught 42 passes for 508 yards and six touchdowns in his Wolfpack career, which are statistics he'd gladly want to surpass this upcoming season. Five of his six scores happened in the final seven games last year. Whether that could be a harbinger of what is to come this fall remains in question, but a healthy Grinnage could be a major weapon for fifth- year senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Grinnage knows his big body and length makes it tough for smaller defensive backs to be able to reach the ball, or he can also draw some defensive pass interference pen- alties at times. He calls that a "win-win" situation, as does his quarterback. "It's great when you can just throw the ball in his vicinity, and he'll just go up and get it," Brissett said. "That's what he does really well. He gets open and he's a mismatch with anybody you put on him. He knows that, and I think he's understood the fact that he can be a real special player if he does what he's supposed to do. I think he's ready to do that." Grinnage had 27 receptions for 358 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. He caught at least one pass in 11 of 13 games for the 8-5 Wolfpack, including a career- best effort of four catches for 87 yards in the thrilling home loss to top-ranked Florida State on Sept. 27, 2014. Grinnage started off the game with a 21-yard recep- tion and later added a 45-yard grab, and both plays led to touchdown drives. "That is what I hope and that is what I want, and will be working for that every day," Grinnage said when asked about an expanded role in the offense this season. "I'm not just going to get it with me being me. I have to go out and work for it." Head coach Dave Doeren wants to see more of those kinds of big plays. Keeping Grinnage healthy is a major piece to having that puzzle come together. He missed this past spring with a back injury, which also led to missed time in the weight room. "He's been hurt a lot," Doeren said. "That's probably the one thing that has hurt his development as a blocker. It's hard to develop when you are not in there. We'll see how he comes on this year. He got bet- ter and better as the year went on last year." Doeren has been impressed with Grin- nage's football IQ and ability to win over Brissett during the last two years. "He's very athletic, he's got great ball skills," Doeren said. "He's an intelligent route runner. Quarterbacks trust him. He's got great potential." Grinnage would love to get the ball often every game, but he knows there is a process into reaching that level of opportunity. "You have to have a good 'stick' at the top of your routes, so the quarterback knows when to get you the ball," Grinnage said. "You need good movement and to be good with your hands, like getting the de- fensive players off of you. You have to shift their motion and get them to open their hips one way or the other, so you can break the other way and be wide open." Grinnage has to earn the trust of Bris- sett in order to become a go-to guy in the clutch, whether it's extending drives on key third downs or in the red zone leading to points on the scoreboard. "I know with the quarterbacks, and working with them so much, they have to trust you that if they throw the ball up, you have to go get it," Grinnage said. "That just comes from practice." A good tight end can always be a quar- terback's best friend on the field. Brissett and NC State lost two wide receivers to transfer — Bo Hines to Yale and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to South Florida. The tight ends and variety of backs could help fill the void in NCSU's share the wealth of- fense. Brissett has noticed the improvement Grinnage has made this offseason, even though he was slowed by injury. "He grew a tremendous amount and he's gotten better throughout the year," Bris- sett said. "That's all you can ask of him, and he's continuing to get better. He's just going to catch the ball, plain and simple." Grinnage "hated" missing time this spring, but is poised for a crucial redshirt junior year. Grinnage's great size combined with enough speed to stretch the field verti- cally helps him become quite an impos- ing target. He earned a preseason spot on the watch list for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top tight end. "You still have to work to get that award," Grinnage said. "This team is going to be great, and based off how good we are as a team will be how I am individually." NCSU offensive coordinator Matt Can- ada said Grinnage would get featured more in some games than others simply due to potential matchups. "David has the potential to be a matchup issue for people," Canada said. "He's a big, long guy that can run and catches the ball in traffic. "If people focus on him, that lets other guys being able to go. That will take pres- sure off of the other kids [at wide receiver]. We just have to get guys open for Jacoby. Whoever gets open, he'll throw the ball to the open guy." Grinnage has declared himself 100 percent for the upcoming season. Canada knows he'll have to "bring him along" dur- ing preseason camp. "We know he's a guy that can make plays and he has proven that in the fall," Canada said. "We'll get him back and healthy, and get him up to speed in camp. He'll be ready to go for the first game." NC State has an abundance of tight ends on scholarship, which wasn't the case just a couple of years ago. Grinnage, fifth-year FILLING THE VOID Tight End David J. Grinnage Has A Great Opportunity Awaiting Him Grinnage enters his senior season with 42 ca- reer receptions for 508 yards and six scores. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN "He gets open and he's a mismatch with anybody you put on him. He knows that, and I think he's understood the fact that he can be a real special player if he does what he's supposed to do." ■ Fifth-year senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett on Grinnage

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