The Wolfpacker

July 2016

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 91 of 163

90 ■ THE WOLFPACKER FOOTBALL PREVIEW 2016 BY JACEY ZEMBAL N C State successfully turned over its key special teams posi- tions in 2015 and will reap the benefits for the next three years. The punt and kickoff return units took off thanks to sophomore all-purpose back Nyheim Hines and senior wide receiver Bra'Lon Cherry, who each had a touchdown runback. Sophomore punter A.J. Cole III, redshirt sophomore kickoff specialist Jackson Maples and sophomore long snapper Tyler Griffiths have solidified their positions. The last step is for either sophomore kicker Kyle Bam- bard or senior Connor Haskins to settle the placekicking position. NC State co-special teams coordinators Eddie Faulkner and Clayton White divvy up the duties, and are ably assisted by NCSU special teams quality control coach Doug Shearer. "We want to have a major impact on all wins, special teams- wise," White said. "When we have an opportunity for a big play, let's capitalize." Faulkner specializes in kick returns and punt coverage, and was integral in Hines' success. White handles the punt return unit with Cherry and kickoff coverage. They both thought NC State could have had more than two touchdowns in the return game. Faulkner figures another three or four kick returns were close to going the distance, and White rattled off at least three punt returns that almost broke free. Hines returned 35 kickoffs for a 26.3-yard average and had a 100-yard touchdown scamper against Clemson Oct. 31. The former Garner (N.C.) High standout led the ACC with 920 kick return yards, and he was fifth in average. Hines motivates the players to block their man just a little bit longer because that could be the difference for a long return. "Nyheim is special," Faulkner said. "Him being back there makes us better." Cherry had a big jump from his sophomore year, when he aver- aged 5.8 yards on six punt returns before getting replaced by Bo Hines. Cherry exploded to average 13.3 yards on 27 punt returns and went 52 yards for a score at Wake Forest Oct. 24. Cherry chipped in on kick returns, and averaged 30 yards on four returns with a long of 47. Cherry led the ACC with 358 punt return yards and was fourth in average among players who had at least 10 punt returns. "Cherry had a return his freshman year that showed me he had the ability to be a punt returner that we all would like to see," White SPECIAL TEAMS FEELING SPECIAL An Experienced And Talented Group Has NC State Poised For A Good Year Quick Facts Co-Position Coaches: Eddie Faulkner (fourth season) and Clayton White (fourth season) Returning Starter: KR Matt Dayes, PR Bra'Lon Cherry, K Kyle Bambard, P A.J. Cole III and LS Tyler Griffiths Starters Lost: None FYI: Athlon listed senior punt returner Bra'Lon Cherry on its All-ACC third team … Cherry entered last year with eight punt returns for 67 yards, but thrived last season. The former New Bern (N.C.) High standout averaged 13.3 yards on 27 punt returns, and also added four kick returns for 120 yards and a long of 47 … Sopho- more return man Nyheim Hines had eight career kick returns for touchdowns at Garner (N.C.) High … Tyler Griffiths also played linebacker at Indian Trail (N.C.) Sun Valley High and participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … NCSU's punt return game helped the Wolfpack set up offensive drives in opposing territory 11 times … The Pack has been in the top five of the ACC the last two years in kickoff coverage … Opponents returned punts for just 52 yards last year. ■ By The Numbers 52 Yards on senior punt returner Bra'Lon Cherry's touchdown against Wake Forest in a 35-17 victory at Wake Forest Oct. 24. 72 Yards on a punt for sophomore punter A.J. Cole against Boston College in the Wolfpack's 24-8 road win Nov. 7. 100 Yards on freshman Nyheim Hines' kick return for a touchdown against Clemson Oct. 31, which tied for the longest kick return in NC State his- tory and the third-longest play in school history. Sophomore Nyheim Hines led the ACC with 920 kick return yards in 2015, highlighted by a 100-yard touchdown against Clemson. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolfpacker - July 2016