After discussing the dearth of information from the football team’s spring practice, Tim Peeler has a nice piece on GoPack.com AND, Chuck Amato gave a long interview on 1090-AM. A transcript of the interview has been posted here.
Emergence of DeMario Pressley?
Peeler’s piece included an interesting blurb…
“The coach, who will enter his sixth season as the head coach of his alma mater this fall, has been particularly impressed with a Wolfpack defensive line that includes junior All-America candidate Mario Williams at one defensive end, senior Manny Lawson at the other, and junior John McCargo and sophomore DeMario Pressley at the tackles.”
…that was re-iterated in Chuck’s radio interview when he said,
“And thatís where it starts, is up front, and DeMario Pressley has made a huge impact on that up front there. Heís making those guys inside work to keep their starting position.”
Although Amato’s metions of Pressley were brief…I find his comments both interesting and historically significant.
IMHO, this is GREAT NEWS…because this means that Pressley was as good as he was originally billed when he was rated the #1 Defensive Tackle in the country by SuperPrep, Prep Star, Rivals.com and analyst Max Emfinger.
At 6’2 / 295 pounds, Tank Tyler is a solid a defensive tackle. He played in the 2002 Shrine Bowl, won many conference and regional honors, was ranked in the Top 40 of most national rankings for defensive tackles, and was a consensus Top 10 overall prospect in ths state of North Carolina. In the pre-Chuck Amato days, Tank would have easily been a 2 or 3 year starter on the defensive front and would have been more than serviceable.
However, when DeMario Pressley came out of high school in Greensboro two years ago, he seemed to represent a completely different level of extraordinary talent, graduating as North Carolina’s #1 overall prospect, consensus All-American, and the #1 Defensive Tackle in the country. It is nothing but exciting for preliminary signs to be pointing to Pressley’s emergence as a force on an already strong (and deep) defensive line.
Comparisons to AJ Davis?
The recruiting buzz around Pressley, and his talent, was similar to that of highly-recruited AJ Davis. And, at this point of his career Davis has not performed on par with the hype surrounding his recruitment due largely to his (puzzlingly) limited playing time. (He has seemed to deliver when given the opportunity, like his key interceptionas a freshman in State’s comeback in Columbus against Ohio State).
To hear that DP is playing so well at DT will ease some Wolfpackers’ fears rising from (unfair?) comparisons to Davis’ impact-to-hype-ratio. The result could be downright scary.
The size, strength, and ability of State’s defensive line now reminds me of the powerhouse lines that Mack Brown compiled at Carolina in the mid-90s when future NFLers like Ebenezer Ekuban, Greg Ellis, and Vonnie Holliday were followed by names like Ryan Sims and Julius Peppers.
Ironically, it was State’s defensive line that was easily our weakest position in the Mike O’Cain era that ‘coincidentally’ overlapped with the most successful portion of Brown’s tenure at Carolina. Early in the O’Cain era, the Wolfpack experienced a rash of off-field problems that led to suspensions and expulsions of a disproportionate amount of DLmen, which included rising star, Chris McNeil. It seemed as though that ulitimately served as a watershed event and MOC’s defensive line – and entire program – never recovered from that sudden reduction of quality linemen within the program.
The significance of the DL situation during O’Cain’s tenure was made more obvious when you recall the successful NFL-talent that had occupied the Wolfpack’s line in the Dick Sheridan era when names like Ray Agnew, Mark Thomas, Mike Jones, and John Akins (did I get that last name correct) anchored a successful defense.
In review, over the last 20 years case can be made that both NC State and UNC’s general levels of football success can be directly correlated with the strength of its defensive front. I know that it isn’t rocket science…but it is interesting nonetheless. Let’s hope that this continues to be the case.