The Wolfpacker

July 2016

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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JULY 2016 ■ 55 FOOTBALL PREVIEW 2016 all-around force is to improve his blocking. "He is strong and has a low center of gravity," Faulkner said. "That is what he and I talk about in getting better at. He has a good feel for running routes and spacing on the field, and leverage and stuff like that. "He understands conceptually what you are trying to do on any given play. I just want to see him become more physical as a run blocker." Samuels started 10 games last year, and Cook started five, but the latter proved to be an integral member of the offensive attack and averaged about 38 snaps per game. The 6-6, 250-pound Cook caught six passes for 61 yards, but with David J. Grin- nage going to the NFL a year early and the graduation of Benson Browne, he'll have more opportunities. "He is unbelievable at blocking," Faulkner said. "He is excep- tional, and the best I've been around. He can bend first of all and get into the perfect football position, and flat back and all that. He understands foot fire. He's athletic enough where he isn't getting top heavy and you are going to get out of the way, and he'll fall on his face. "He's a good mix of coming to get you, but at the same time, be under control." The premature loss of Grinnage could also open the door for redshirt junior Pharoah McKever. The 6-6, 260-pounder played quarterback and safety at Tabor City (N.C.) South Columbus High, but then was tried at wide receiver during his freshman season while redshirting. McKever switched to defensive end and added about 25 pounds. He came through with a memorable 82- yard interception return for a touchdown against Syracuse, which spurred the Wolf- pack to a huge victory. McKever tallied 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and the impressive in- terception in 14 total games on defense (two starts). He made the move to tight end prior to playing Mississippi State in the Belk Bowl last December. He surprised the Bulldogs by breaking free for an 82-yard touch- down — his magic number — and he foreshadowed what he could achieve in the future at his new position. The key for McKever is to become an every-down tight end. "Playing all those positions has led him to this being his spot," Faulkner said. "You can see where defensive end has helped him Redshirt junior Pharoah McKever appeared in five games as a defensive reserve before switching back to the offensive side, where he redshirted in 2013 at wide receiver, prior to the bowl game. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN Tight Ends Roster STARTERS No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 28 Jaylen Samuels Jr. 5-11 223 Charlotte Earned first-team All-ACC accolades after racking up more receptions (65 for 597 yards and seven scores) nationally than any other tight end. Also rushed for 368 yards and nine touchdowns on 56 carries. His combined 16 touchdowns were the third-best single- season mark in NCSU history. Received the Torry Holt Award, which is annually given to the Wolfpack's most valuable offensive player. 48 Cole Cook Jr. 6-6 250 Carrollton, Ga. The quality blocker started five games last year and played 500 snaps. Caught six passes for 61 yards and is looking for his first touchdown. Was the co-recipient of NC State's Bob Warren Award, which is given for integrity and sportsmanship. RESERVES No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 88 Pharoah McKever R-Jr. 6-6 260 Tabor City, N.C. Showed his speed when he had an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown as a defensive end against Syracuse in 2014, and an 82-yard touchdown reception at tight end against Mississippi State in the 2015 Belk Bowl. Played in five games defensively last year, and then one at tight end. 86 Thaddeus Moss Fr. 6-4 247 Charleston, W.V. ranked him as a four-star prospect, and the No. 6 tight end and No. 123 overall player nationally. Helped Mallard Creek High in Charlotte win the NCHSAA 4AA state title last year after transferring in from Charlotte Victory Christian. He was the highest-ranked recruit to sign with NCSU in the 2016 class. WAITING IN THE WINGS No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown 42 Dylan Autenrieth Fr. 6-4 220 Dallas, Ga. three-star prospect enrolled early this spring. Caught 41 passes for 407 yards and five scores his senior year at North Paulding High. 41 Clark Eyers 5th-Sr. 6-5 252 Dunn, N.C. The former Western Carolina player walked on at NC State, and he got his first playing time last year. Logged 41 snaps in four games. Was active in the Kay Yow Spring Game in April with three receptions for 36 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown. 89 Thomas Ruocchio Fr. 6-4 230 Raleigh The preferred walk-on played across the street at Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons. ■ By The Numbers 4 Games that junior tight end/fullback Jaylen Samuels got 10 touches or more, including running or catching the ball 15 times against both Boston College and Florida State on the road in back-to-back contests last November. 5 Contests that Samuels scored at least two touchdowns. He opened the season with a career-high three scores in a 49-21 win over Troy. 8 Games last year where junior tight end Cole Cook logged at least 35 snaps, including a season-high 54 against Syracuse Nov. 21.

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