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January 26, 2010

State of the position: Wide out

With the 2009 season behind NC State, it's only natural to take a look back at the year and analyze the roster. The Wolfpacker does just that, taking a position-by-position look at the squad, and figuring out what went right and wrong in 2009, and how the future shapes up. We continue with the wide receiver position.


Season Breakdown


Preseason spin
The Pack knew they had a solid starting tandem in Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams. Spencer was the big-play threat who set a new ACC record by averaging 22.3 yards per catch in 2008, making 31 receptions for 691 yards and five scores. Williams added 26 catches for 432 yards and four touchdowns.

The biggest question was who would be the third receiver. Donald Bowens looked to be a future star in 2007, but he missed 2008 with a back injury and then tore his ACL and his return was unlikely by the start of the 2009 campaign. That left speedy kick returner T.J. Graham, one-time two-sport player Darrell Davis, highly-touted Jay Smith and well regarded Steven Howard as the main candidates.

Reality
The Pack got exactly what they needed for the most part from the receiver position. Williams led the squad with 45 catches for 547 yards and 11 touchdowns, making a name for himself as a potential preseason All-ACC candidate in 2010. Spencer broke his record from 2008 by averaging 25.5 yards per catch, making 30 receptions for 765 yards and six scores.

Davis would emerge as a viable third receiver option, catching 25 passes for 380 yards and a score. Bowens would make a quicker than expected return to the field, playing in 10 of 12 games, but he clearly had lost a step during his rehab. He made 12 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. Graham showed flashes of being a third receiver, but he also struggled with drops before injuring his leg against Boston College and missing the rest of the season. Graham finished with 12 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown in seven games.

Howard added 11 catches for 112 yards, and Smith had five receptions for 59 yards.


Analyzing Recruiting Trend


The Supposed Foundation
By the foundation, we mean high school players that were signed in the Classes of 2005, 2006 and 2007 that have been in the program for at least three years. We did not include junior college recruits or major college transfers in this list.

Geron James, Class of 2005
Kyle Newell, Class of 2005
Donald Bowens, Class of 2006
Darrell Davis, Class of 2006
Carlos Everett, Class of 2006
Jarvis Williams, Class of 2006
LaMarcus Bond, Class of 2007
Steven Howard, Class of 2007
Jay Smith, Class of 2007
Owen Spencer, Class of 2007

Analysis: Wide receiver was one of the few positions were the previous staff at NC State under Chuck Amato left the current staff a solid foundation. Bowens was almost a star before injuries hampered his career. Spencer and Williams have lived up to if not surpassed expectations, and Davis, Howard and to a lesser extent Smith have added solid contributions.

That's not to say there were not some misses. James teased Pack fans with his talent but never was able to stay eligible or out of the doghouse of coaches. Newell was a highly touted recruit but never played a down at NC State. Neither did Bond or Everett. Bond in particular may have been able to add some quickness, the one area the receiver corps has been lacking the last few seasons.

The Future?
The future are high school players that signed in 2008 and 2009 as well as non-binding verbal commitments from the 2010 class.

T.J. Graham, Class of 2008
Tobais Palmer, Class of 2008
Morgan Alexander, Class of 2009
Quintin Payton, Class of 2009
Anthony Creecy, Class of 2010
Bryan Underwood, Class of 2010

Analysis: NC State has added some much-needed open field quickness with Alexander, Underwood and Palmer, albeit Palmer two years later after a pair of seasons at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Ga. Creecy though may be the most heralded of the group. The four-star prospect could get a shot at running back though next year depending on how the recruitment of Mustafa Greene plays itself out. Expect the Pack to target some go-to receivers however in the 2011 class.


State Of The Position


NC State looks okay here for 2010, but their top three receivers next year will all be seniors. The development of the younger players next year will be crucial to maintain the success the Pack enjoyed from their receivers in 2009.





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