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March 23, 2010

State of the position: Safeties

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 safety position.


Season Breakdown


Preseason spin
Much like cornerback, safety was a big area of concern for NC State heading into the season, and the depth chart at the position took an unexpected hit when Jimmaul Simmons left the team just before preseason camp started.

The best options appeared to be senior Clem Johnson, a former junior college quarterback, and Justin Byers, who had some starting experience as a rookie in 2008. Some talented freshmen were hoping to add depth to the equation, and walk-on Bobby Floyd was given a scholarship before the season began.

Reality
The concerns were warranted. Johnson and Byers struggled with consistency, opening the door for true freshman Brandan Bishop and redshirt freshman Earl Wolff. While Bishop and Wolff showed promise, they also went through their growing pains. Byers would be moved to corner before coming back to safety. Johnson steadied his play late in the year and made the game-clinching interception against North Carolina.


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.

J.C. Neal, Class of 2005
Jordan Delegal, Class of 2006
Javon Walker, Class of 2006
Justin Byers, Class of 2007
Jimmaul Simmons, Class of 2007

Analysis: Attrition and bad luck really hurt the foundation for the safety position. Delegal never made it to campus, and Simmons left the team. Walker showed considerable promise, but a devastating knee injury forced the end of his career prematurely. Neal and Byers were both somewhat tweeners in the secondary between corner and safety, although Neal had a good senior year in 2008.

The Future?
The future are high school and prep players that signed in 2008 through 2010.

Roy Mangram, Class of 2008
Earl Wolff, Class of 2008
Brandan Bishop, Class of 2009
Donald Coleman, Class of 2009
Dean Haynes, Class of 2009
David Amerson, Class of 2010
D.J. Green, Class of 2010
Dontae Johnson, Class of 2010
Peter Singer, Class of 2010

Analysis: Mangram never enrolled at NC State, but Wolff and Bishop showed enough promise during the rookie campaigns in 2009 to believe they will be keepers at safety. The NC State staff has recruited safeties very aggressively, although a few, such as Amerson, Green and Haynes, have the versatility to play other positions on defense. Amerson and Haynes could end up at corner while Green may grow into a linebacker.


State Of The Position


On paper, the future looks fairly good at safety, but unfortunately for the Pack the future is now. The young players have to grow up in a hurry, but there are reasons for State to believe the growing pains will be worth it.


Previous State of the Positions
- Quarterbacks
- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Tight Ends
- Offensive Linemen
- Defensvie Ends
- Defensive Tackles
- Linebackers
- Cornerbacks



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