The Wolfpacker

September 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 39 of 95

Fifth-year senior tight end Mario Carter caught nine passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in 2011, and he could be poised for bigger and better things this fall. BREAKOUT POTENTIAL Five Players Who Are Ready To Step Up This Season E BY MATT CARTER very season enjoys a breakout performer or two when players are given their first extended op- portunities on the field and begin to shine. There are plenty of candidates to emerge in that role in 2012. Here are five that The Wolfpacker believes are set to breakout this fall. Tight End Mario Carter The fifth-year senior has had a tough road since before his senior season at powerful Independence High in Charlotte. Carter tore his ACL during a preseason scrimmage that year, missing the entire 2007 campaign. After redshirting at NC State in 2008, Carter was a standout in the 2009 spring game, leading his team with six catches for 68 yards. He appeared set to take a promi- nent role in the offense as George Bryan's backup at tight end before tearing his ACL again during a preseason scrimmage. After missing football for three straight years, two due to injury, Carter has re- turned to play sparingly as a reserve, catch- 40 ■ THE WOLFPACKER ing a 14-yard pass in 2010 and hauling in nine receptions for 84 yards and a score last fall. With Bryan now graduated, Carter, who lost at least 20 pounds over the summer to improve his mobility, has his chance to fulfill the potential that he flashed earlier in his career when he was a prized recruit and a promising redshirt freshman. Offensive Tackle Rob Crisp Crisp arrived at NC State in the fall of 2010 as one of the most heralded recruits to ever sign with the Wolfpack. He was rated as a five-star prospect by most of the recruiting services, including Rivals. com, which also listed Crisp as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 13 player overall. After getting his feet wet as a true fresh- man in 2010 by starting his first-ever game in the season opener at left tackle, Crisp be- gan to see increased playing time through- out the year in 2011. After playing no more than 26 snaps in the first six games, he played at least that many in each of the fi- nal six, including a season-high 66 against PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN UNC and 62 while starting at right tackle in the Belk Bowl win over Louisville. Crisp, a physically imposing 6-7, 312-pounder, impressed enough this spring while lining up first string at right tackle that the Pack made the decision in the off- season to move him to the all-important left tackle spot at the start of preseason practice. He has the significant task of pro- tecting fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon's blind side. Linebacker Rickey Dowdy Someone has to step up at linebacker, and Dowdy, a redshirt junior, is as good a candidate as anyone. He looks the part at 6-2, 240 pounds and has finally settled into a position at weakside linebacker after struggling to find a role in the defense and even spending time at defensive end his first three years in Raleigh. Dowdy has limited experience at State. He redshirted in 2009, played one snap against Western Carolina in 2010 and did not see the field at all in 2011. The fact that he is tracking toward first-string weakside linebacker highlights the predicament that the Wolfpack is facing with its linebacker corps. With sophomore Michael Peek, who was expected to challenge Dowdy for the start- ing job, out for the season after tearing the ACL in his knee in the first week of prac- tice, the pressure is on Dowdy more than ever to perform. Defensive Back Dontae Johnson Defensive backs coach Mike Reed has stated that NC State's defense would not have been able to do the things needed to win the Belk Bowl in Charlotte over

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