The Wolfpacker

March 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 21 of 95

2012 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY JACEY ZEMBAL N C State head coach Tom O'Brien has made a career out of having his recruiting classes exceed expecta- tions. NC State signed 22 players Feb. 1 in O'Brien's fifth full recruiting class in Raleigh — including 17 three-star pros- pects and five two-stars. The Wolfpack ranked No. 9 in the ACC and No. 11 in the league in average stars per player (2.77). recruiting analysts Mike Far- rell and Keith Niebuhr expect several of the players to outperform their rankings under the tutelage of O'Brien and his staff. He's a great pass rusher off the edge. He's so athletic that he can chase down running backs from behind. He is really a sideline-to-sideline guy. Whitehead could play anywhere." Lemming was impressed with Whitehead's great speed and range, which led to some col- leges looking at him as an outside linebacker. "I loved him," Lemming said. "He's one of While Not Highly Ranked, NC State's Class Of 2012 Features Many Players With The Potential To Be Special An Understated CLASS the better defensive players in a very talent- rich Atlanta area. He looks very thin, but I think down the line, he'll be a super player. Give him another year or two when he gains weight and strength." The well-balanced class has a little bit of everything on offense and defense. "These are guys that they liked, who they saw in person at camp, that other people might not have had as high on their lists," Farrell said. Farrell believes three-star players such as outside linebacker M.J. Salahuddin of Fay- etteville (N.C.) Jack Britt High, defensive end Desmond Owino of Raleigh Sanderson High and defensive end Kenderius Whitehead of Lithonia (Ga.) Martin Luther King High could be the next wave of players that O'Brien turns into gems. "Some of these guys will get coached up and turn into very good football players," Farrell said. "Some of these kids will end up being much better than they are ranked." While the Wolfpack didn't crack the top 50 of's national team rankings, O'Brien likes the class. "Certainly we are excited," O'Brien said. "This is a really talented group of young men that have decided to come to NC State. It's a long, athletic and talented group of kids. The thing that stands out at you is the size of them and the length they have, and the fact that they can run." Whitehead could be the player in the class with the most down-the-road potential ac- cording to Niebuhr and fellow analyst Tom Lemming, who has his own recruiting show on CBS College Sports. "Whitehead could be the guy that Wolfpack fans say, 'Thank God we got him,'" Niebuhr said. "My only concern is that he's a little thin. 22 ■ THE WOLFPACKER Three-star linebacker M.J. Salahuddin from Fayetteville, N.C., drew praise from one re- cruiting analyst for his play in the Carolinas Shrine Bowl in December. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN NC State was able to amp up the competi- tion for the battle at quarterback after Mike Glennon finishes his eligibility with the 2012 season. Signee Manny Stocker of Coatesville (Pa.) High comes in highly regarded, and will compete with redshirt freshman Tyler Bro- sius, true freshman Brian Taylor and Colorado State junior transfer Pete Thomas for the start- ing job in 2013. Stocker emerged at NC State's June camp and has already enrolled for the spring semes- ter. He will take part in the Wolfpack's spring practice, which starts March 23. Gordon of Boiling Springs (S.C.) will likely end up redshirting if past history with offen- sive linemen is any indication. McKinney and Kennedy have already enrolled at NC State for the spring semester. "McKinney is a guy that I think they hope can step in quickly at guard," Farrell said. "Both him and Tu'uta are inside guys, and a year older and stronger. They have played a higher level of competition than some of these other guys have. They need to plug holes. One of these two guys will get to be a backup. The fact that Tu'uta is also a center is very important. It is hard to find guys that can snap the ball." Niebuhr got to watch Gordon play at the Carolinas Shrine Bowl this past December. "He is not very tall and doesn't have the best physique, but technically, he is very good and surprisingly strong," Niebuhr said. "He gets outstanding leverage. That is a guy that was probably overlooked because physically, he doesn't blow you away. Yet, he is just a very solid player." Farrell expects Kennedy to be ahead of Gordon, especially since he has enrolled for the spring semester. "Kennedy has potential and moves well, but he has to be more physical," Farrell said. "He can whiff on blocks at times. He is a good get for them, and a guy who will be a staple of their offensive line down the road. He is more of a sure thing than Eddie Gordon." The addition of running back Shadrach "Stocker is an athletic kid, and it obviously hurt when they lost Summers because he was going to be the guy," Farrell said. "Stocker's accuracy is an issue. He didn't throw the ball a whole lot as a junior — he did a lot of free- lance. In the NC State offense that they want to run, he'll have to learn a lot." NC State signed four offensive linemen to help protect its future quarterbacks, and added two wide receivers, one tight end and one running back. The offensive line quartet of John Tu'uta and Quincy McKinney of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, Bryce Kennedy of South- ern Pines (N.C.) Pinecrest High and Eddie

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