The Wolfpacker

January 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 27 of 79

known for being athletic and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds at NC State's summer camp in 2009. Whoever the quarterback will be will have experienced weapons around him. Freshman running back Shadrach Thornton emerged as a potential feature back, rushing 142 times for 655 yards and three touchdowns and catching 25 passes for 233 yards and another score. Thornton rushed for more than 100 yards in a game four times this season, including in all three of his starts. Redshirt sophomore Tony Creecy gutted out a nagging foot injury to rush 118 times for 433 yards and a team-high four touchdowns. He added 28 receptions for 132 yards and another score. NC State will also return four of its five leading wide receivers, including starter Quintin Payton, a redshirt junior who led the Pack with 48 receptions for 761 yards. He also caught two touchdowns. The team's leader in scoring catches was redshirt sophomore Bryan Underwood, who had 43 catches for 615 yards and 10 touchdowns. Also back is redshirt junior Rashard Smith (16 catches for 265 yards and four touchdowns) and freshman Charlie Hegedus (nine receptions for 116 yards and a score). Starting tight end Mario Carter was a fifth-year senior and has exhausted his eligibility, but redshirt junior Asa Watson was a capable reserve this past season, catching 22 passes for 261 yards and a score. The line will be the second biggest question mark on offense. Both starting tackles, junior Rob Crisp on the left side and redshirt sophomore Tyson Chandler on the right, are scheduled to return. Redshirt junior Duran Christophe, who has made 17 career starts at guard, will also be back. Injuries in 2012 allowed redshirt sophomore guard Cameron Fordham and redshirt freshman center Joe Thuney to gain valuable experience, making them early leading candidates to replace departing starters. Special Teams If Doeren holds to the staffing approach he used at Northern Illinois, then he will not have a coach devoted solely to special teams like O'Brien did with coordinator Jerry Petercuskie. Whoever coaches the special teams will inherit a veteran group of specialists. Kicker Niklas Sade, punter Wil Baumann and long snapper Scott Thompson, all sophomores, are expected back for their third year as starters. Smith had an impressive first season as a punt returner, running one back for a touchdown against The Citadel and coming close on several others. State, however, must replace fifth-year senior receiver Tobais Palmer on kickoff returns. ■ Junior Rashard Smith made a big imapct in his first season as the Wolfpack's punt returner, taking one back for a touchdown versus The Citadel and coming close on several other attempts. photo by ken martin 28  ■  the wolfpacker 26-28.FB Look Ahead.indd 28 12/11/12 2:39 PM

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