Today marked the start of fall camp for the NC State Wolfpack. Coming off an 8-5 season, which included a bowl victory over the University of Central Florida. The Wolfpack’s mantra this year is #RaiseTheBar.
Although the Pack have high expectations, the atmosphere during the first day of camp was business as usual. Coaches were instructing players on technique and preaching the importance of doing things “fast and quick.” There was not any loud music playing during drills and players were not hollering as they moved from station to station. Majority of the noise was from coaches, saying things I cannot type in this article and players communicating with one another during drills.
Head coach Dave Doeren was pleased with the way his team came out and supported each other. “It’s just fun to see the guys that have played and have experience, the way they come back and you can see their confidence. We see them coaching other players and feeding off each other. It’s exciting as a coach to see that kind of progress,” said Doeren when asked about the first day of practice.
Coming into fall camp, the depth at tackle is a concern for Doeren’s team: both starting tackles departed for the NFL last year. When asked if tackle is a big concern for him, Doeren replied, “We know what Tyler Jones can be, he’s a pretty talented young man. I think it’s more about who’s going to play behind those guys now. Tyler and Alex (Barr) came out of the spring as our starting tackles. Daris Workman hasn’t played yet, Will Richardson hasn’t played in a game, so we need to develop our backup tackles and see if there is some competition after that.”
Another area emphasis for the Wolfpack is the wide receiver position: Bra’Lon Cherry is the only returning wide receiver with significant playing time. Converted cornerback Elliot Davis, Maurice Trowell, and Jumichael Ramos were with the starting offensive unit today.Tight end David Grinnage spoke of the new guys in the receiving corp, “They’re looking great, they’ve been out here working. When they came in during the summer, they were learning the plays and getting everything down. We were out here extra time by ourselves, working on that stuff. So when it came camp time, we could go out here and go full speed and not have any mistakes.”
The Wolfpack will rely heavily on Grinnage, Cherry and running back Matt Dayes in the passing game until the new guys can get up to game speed.
On the flip side, the Wolfpack have a very deep backfield and position competition should not be a problem there. Returning backs Dayes and Shadrach Thornton will anchor the backfield and provide veteran leadership.
Doeren scored big with the addition of a trio of homegrown talent, adding freshmen Johnny Frasier, Princeton; Reggie Gallaspy, High Point; and Nyheim Hines, Garner, to an already talented Wolfpack backfield. When asked if he has ever had this much depth at NC State, Doeren said, “Not at NC State. At Wisconsin we did and I’ve made note of that before. Not since I’ve been here, it’s a good problem to have.”
If the Wolfpack are going to #RaiseTheBar, they will have to have position competition throughout the team. When players are allowed to get comfortable because no one is pushing them, teams stagnate. “There are some guys who are two year starters that probably don’t have the same competition as other guys, but there are still wide open jobs out there. As a coach, I want to see competition at every position. If I ever feel like a guy is relaxed, the competition is going to get hot and heavy pretty quick at his position,” said Doeren.
- Versatile freshman running back Nyheim Hines worked with the punt returners. Look to see him all over the field offensively at: running back, in the slot, wide receiver and in the kick return game.
- NC State returns all four starting cornerbacks and their starting nickel back. With significant game experience, look to see this unit as the strength of the defense.
- Redshirt freshman quarterback Jalan McClendon was with the third team today. Junior quarterback Josh Taylor took second team repetitions.
- Redshirt graduate safety Hakim Jones now wears number one.
- Barlow worked with several players on tracking the football off the kicker’s foot and pursuit drills. Working with the punt returners was Garner High School standout Nyheim Hines. Hines is a part of the highly touted freshman running back trio. Of the three, Hines is the most versatile. Head coach Dave Doeren plans to use him in the slot, at running back, and in the kick return game.