NC State Football Preview 2014 (By Brett Friedlander-Star News)

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Coach: Dave Doeren (2nd season)

2013 record: (3-9, 0-8 AAC)

Postseason: Did Not Qualify

Returning starters (Offense 7, Defense 7, Specialists 2): Shadrach Thornton, 6-1, 207, Jr., RB; Tyler Purvis, 6-2, 226, Sr., FB; David J. Grinnage, 6-5, 273, Soph, TE; Tyson Chandler, 6-7, 354, Sr., OT; Joe Thuney, 6-5, 285, OG, Jr.; Alex Barr, 6-7, 322, Jr., OG; Quinton Schooley, 6-4, 301, Jr., C; Art Norman, 6-0, 252, Sr., DE; Thomas Teal, 6-1, 308, Sr., DT; Monty Nelson, 6-2, 313, Soph., DT; Brandon Pittman, 6-2, 218, Sr., LB; Juston Burris, 6-1, 207, Jr., CB; Jack Tocho, 6-1, 196, Soph., CB; Hakim Jones, 6-2, 198, Sr., S; Niklas Sade, 6-3, 199, Sr., PK; Wil Baumann, 6-6, 197, Sr. P.

Others to watch: Jacoby Brissett, 6-4, 236, Jr., QB; Tony Creecy, 5-11, 215. Sr. RB.; Matt Dayes, 5-9, 202, Soph., RB; Bryan Underwood, 5-9, 179, Sr., WR; Marquez Valdez-Scantling, 6-3, 203, Soph., WR; Johnathan Alston, 6-0, 206, Soph., WR; Bo Hines, 6-1, 190, Fr., WR; Soph.; Bra’Lon Cherry, 5-11, 187, Soph., WR; Rob Crisp, 6-7, 285, Sr., OT; Tony Adams, 6-2, 301, Fr., OG; T.Y. McGill,6-1, 289, Sr., DT; B.J. Hill, 6-4, 300, Fr., DT; Mike Rose, 6-3, 271, Jr., DE; Kentavius Street, 6-2, 287, Fr., DE; Pharoah McKever, 6-6, 256, R-Fr., DE; Rodman Noel, 6-4, 223, Sr., LB; Jerod Fernandez, 6-0, 224, R-Fr, LB; Airius Moore, 6-0, 220, Fr., LB; Josh Jones, 6-2, 212, R-Fr., S; Jarvis Byrd, 5-10, 190, R-Sr., S; Tim Buckley, 6-0, 197, Jr., S.

Starters lost: Brandon Mitchell, QB; Quintin Payton,WR; Rashard Smith, WR; Duran Christophe, OG; Darryl Cato-Bishop, DE; Robert Caldwell, LB; D.J. Green, LB; Dontae Johnson, CB.

Preseason prediction: 5th, Atlantic Division

Outlook: Sometimes you have to tear the old building down before constructing a new one on the same site. In essence, that’s what N.C. State did last year in its first season under coach Dave Doeren.

Granted, the demolition was a lot more extensive than anyone expected, resulting in the Wolfpack’s first winless ACC season since 1959. The resulting silver lining is an almost complete roster turnover that will allow Doeren and his staff to get more of their own players onto the field now that the rebuilding process has begun..

A full 70 percent of this year’s team are freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores, many of which are already either starting or on the preseason two-deep. But while immediate contributors such as WR Bo Hines, OT Tony Adams, DE Kentavius Street and LB Jerod Fernandez provide hope for the future, it’s another more experienced newcomer that will have the biggest impact on whatever improvement State makes in 2014.

Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett has been the heir apparent to the Wolfpack’s tradition of top QBs since the day he arrived on campus. The junior gave a glimpse of his ability by throwing for 365 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s Kay Yow Spring Game. Now that he’s finally eligible after sitting out his transfer season, Brissett can’t help but improve a passing game that accounted for 15 interceptions and only 14 TDs a season ago.

Brissett’s receiving corps will be young, but there’s some proven talent there in senior Bryan Underwood and a group of promising sophomores – led by Marquez Valdez-Scantling. The RB position is solid with three experienced runners, especially if junior Shadrach Thornton can stay out of trouble and in the lineup. Up front, Brissett will also benefit from the return of oft-injured tackle Rob Crisp along with four other veteran starters.

Defensively, the Wolfpack has a chance to be solid up front with Street joining holdover DTs Thomas Teal and T.Y. McGill and DEs Art Norman and Mike Rose. Although the LB corps took a hit with a season-ending injury to promising M.J. Salahuddin, the secondary has a chance to be improved with youngsters such as CB Jack Tocho and S Hakim Jones benefiting from the experience they got last season.

For the fourth straight year, State’s special teams are in capable hands with Wilmington’s Wil Baumann doing the punting and Niklas Sade handling the placekicking chores.

Quotable quote: “We won three games, so we have no choice but to go up. We have a great quarterback in Jacoby Brissett. Not to take anything away from the last two quarterbacks, but Jacoby Brissett is a really good quarterback and also a really good leader.” Senior running back Tony Creecy.

That having been said, the depth of last season’s struggles makes it possible for State to take a noticeable step forward in 2014. Although Doeren’s rebuilding process is still only in the early stages, six wins and a return to bowl eligibility are not unreasonable goals if all goes well.

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August 2014

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