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January 28, 2010

State of the position: Offensive line

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 offensive line position.


Season Breakdown


Preseason spin
For much of the preseason, NC State head coach Tom O'Brien expressed concerns about the offensive line position, especially the two guard positions. Former tackle Julian Williams was given the nod at left guard, while promising redshirt freshman R.J. Mattes won out the competition to start at right guard. The other three starters were firmly entrenched. Jake Vermiglio and Jerrail McCuller were at left and right tackle respectively, and Ted Larsen was being touted as a potential all-ACC candidate at center.

As the preseason progressed, the Wolfpack coaches seemed to develop more confidence that the line would be an asset to the team.

Reality
NC State's offensive line definitely had its ups and downs in 2009. As has been the case in previous seasons under O'Brien and offensive line coach Don Horton, the line seem to get better as the season developed, and the Pack was able to survive the loss of Mattes to a torn ACL against FSU in October.

Numbers-wise however the line probably could have done better. NC State ranked ninth in the ACC in rushing with 120.9 yards per game, and State averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, also ninth in the league. The Pack allowed 32 sacks this year, again ninth in the ACC. There were also mental miscues that plagued the Pack at times, including bad snaps from Larsen and ill-timed penalties.


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.

Andy Barbee, Class of 2005
Curtis Crouch, Class of 2005
Ted Larsen, Class of 2005
Jerrail McCuller, Class of 2005
Julian Williams, Class of 2005
Gary Gregory, Class of 2006
Wayne Crawford, Class of 2007
Mike Golder, Class of 2007
Henry Lawson, Class of 2007
Desmond Roberts, Class of 2007
Jake Vermiglio, Class of 2007
Justin Whaley, Class of 2007

Analysis: The Class of 2005 was actually a solid group of linemen. McCuller and Williams started for much of three years, and Larsen moved from defensive tackle to become a two-year starter at center. Crouch would have also been a pretty good offensive lineman if he had shown the proper dedication and maturity needed, but instead he ended his once promising career unceremoniously.

The rest of Amato's offensive line recruits however did not amount for much. Gregory and Lawson have seen little if any playing time, and Whaley and Golder never played a snap for the Pack. Roberts had potential, but issues off the field forced him off the team. Only Vermiglio, a late O'Brien addition to the 2007 class, has panned out so far.

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.

Zach Allen, Class of 2008
Ahmad Jaradat, Class of 2008
R.J. Mattes, Class of 2008
Andrew Wallace, Class of 2008
Duran Christophe, Class of 2009
Denzelle Good, Class of 2009
Sam Jones, Class of 2009
Camden Wentz, Class of 2009
Torian Box, Class of 2010
Tyson Chandler, Class of 2010
Robert Crisp, Class of 2010
Andy Jomantas, Class of 2010

Analysis: The future seems very bright at the offensive line position. The early returns on the 2008 class have been very good, especially if Mattes can make a good return from his ACL surgery. It would not be a surprise if Allen, Mattes and Wallace are all starting in 2010. Wentz made a quick impression as a true freshman in 2009 and may be in line to start this upcoming season at center. Crisp is widely regarded as one of the premier offensive line recruits in the country.


State Of The Position


The Pack may have some growing pains in 2010 if they start four sophomores, but the bottom line is that O'Brien built much of his success at Boston College around offensive linemen, and he appears to be on his way to developing a similar pattern at NC State.


Previous State of the Positions
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends



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