NC State down to 46 scholarship players not counting kickers

This column has been provided by a guest author Todd Lion.

After viewing the post yesterday describing NC State’s injury woes and last week’s entry discussing the high rate of attrition from Amato’s last two classes, I thought it would be worth it to examine who is available to play instead of focusing on those not available to play. From my latest examination of the roster, the Wolfpack has 73 players on scholarship this season.

Let us begin this examination by eliminating those players who are currently unavailable to play in the ECU game due to injury.

Incoming recruits sidelined due to season-ending injuries as seniors in high school:
1. LB Terrell Manning
2. FB Colby Jackson
3. TE Mario Carter

Players sidelined due to injury:
4. RB Toney Baker
5. S Javon Walker
6. S Clem Johnson
7. RB Jamelle Eugene
8. WR Donald Bowens
9. OL Curtis Crouch
10. DT Alan Michael Cash
11. WR Geron James
12. TE Anthony Hill
13. TE Matt Kushner

Additionally, we can subtract those true freshmen who are voluntarily sitting out the year to redshirt.

Attempting to Redshirt:
14.OL Zach Allen
15.RB Brandon Barnes
16.LB William Beasley
17.CB Akeem Cunningham
18.QB Mike Glennon
19.CB Gary Grant
20.OL RJ Mattes
21.OL Andrew Wallace
22.S CJ Wilson
23.S Earl Wolff

Removing these 23 players from our original count of 73 leaves us with 50 players available to use this weekend. Four of those players are special teams members (Bradley Pierson, Jeff Ruiz, Corey Tedder, and Josh Czajkowski) and can also be excluded from this discussion.

What we are left with is a completely emaciated team of 46 healthy, scholarship players. This is the group that’s supposed to fill out a 44-player two-deep, play 60 minutes of football, and just pray for no more injuries. It’s really no wonder that the Pack is turning to multiple walk-ons to play meaningful snaps. And it’s also really no wonder that the Pack is losing some games.

Here is the count of the currently healthy, scholarship players:

Seniors (10):
1. QB D. Evans (RS)
2. RB A. Brown
3. OL J. Bedics (RS)
4. OL M. Green (RS)
5. DT A. Holmes
6. DT K. Willis (RS)
7. DE J. Clemmons
8. LB R. Leonard (RS)
9. CB J. Gray (RS)
10. S JC Neal

Juniors (10):
11. QB H. Beck (RS)
12. OL A. Barbee (RS)
13. OL T. Larsen (RS)
14. OL J. McCuller (RS)
15. OL J. Williams (RS)
16. DT L. Burgess
17. DE W. Young (RS)
18. DE S. McKeen (RS)
19. LB R. Michel (RS)
20. CB K. George (RS)

Sophomores (10):
21. RB C. Underwood
22. WR D. Davis (RS)
23. WR O. Spencer (RS)
24. WR J. Williams (RS)
25. OL G. Gregory (RS)
26. OL J. Vermiglio (RS)
27. DE A. Augustin (RS)
28. DE M. Kuhn
29. LB N. Irving (RS)
30. CB D. Morgan (RS)

Freshmen (16):
31. QB R. Wilson (RS)
32. WR TJ Graham
33. WR S. Howard (RS)
34. WR J. Smith (RS)
35. TE G. Bryan (RS)
36. OL H. Lawson (RS)
37. OL D. Roberts (RS)
38. DT W. Crawford (RS)
39. DE J. Rieskamp (RS)
40. DE JR Sweezy (RS)
41. LB A. Cole (RS)
42. LB S. Lucas
43. LB D. Maddox
44. CB D. Ellis
45. S J. Byers (RS)
46. S J. Simmons (RS)

When you look at these numbers, it’s almost a surprise the Pack can even field a team without resorting to using even more true freshmen. Currently, the Pack has one healthy tight end, three healthy safeties, four healthy cornerbacks, and two healthy running backs. Now, that’s not to say anything negative about the walk-ons who have contributed. FB Taylor Gentry, FB Harrison Ritcher, TE Eric Weaver, LB Ryan Goodman, and OL Matt White have all contributed and aided the Wolfpack with their efforts. Any more injuries and the Pack will be looking at some true freshmen.

But with 10 seniors, 10 juniors and 10 sophomores on the depth chart, that leaves the Pack looking at 14 freshmen to even fill out the two-deep. That’s not a recipe for an easy season especially when you consider the non-conference schedule includes an SEC team on the road and two teams currently ranked in the top 20.

We can also use this as an opportunity to examine the numbers for the Pack’s recruiting class this year. If we start with our 73 scholarships used this year and subtract the 13 seniors, we see that 60 scholarships are reserved for next season. Perhaps we can add John Ware to that number, as he will hopefully return from an academic suspension for the 2009 season. That 61 allows a class of 24 players to be added before bumping into the 85-man limit. Adding the inevitable attrition that occurs in the offseason, I would not be surprised to see a 26-27 man recruiting class for O’Brien and his staff this year.

'08 Football Football Recruiting General

49 Responses to NC State down to 46 scholarship players not counting kickers

  1. choppack1 09/16/2008 at 4:18 PM #

    Yep – need to bring in a huge class. I guess the good news is that the largest portion of our class are freshmen – but I’d imagine that to the be the case almost everywhere.

    As for the sidelined seniors – Baker, Hill, and Crouch are seniors…so in theory, at least we 6 of the injured guys back.

  2. Noah 09/16/2008 at 4:25 PM #

    Yep. No matter what you think of O’Brien and Dana Bible and Mike Archer (and we’ve all heard critics of each of them since they were hired), complaining about the coaching this year is both silly and misguided.

    The scholarship situation hurts us in several different ways. One, there is a talent gap between us and other players. So missing talented players is a problem. Two, we’ve got depth issues. It’s bad enough that we’ve got less talented off. linemen…but we’ve also got exhaused less talented OL. Three, experience…there are so many lessons for which experience is the only teacher. When you’re trailing by 10 with six minutes to go and someone fumbles or throws an INT, you need those redshirt juniors and seniors to go over to the underclassmen and pick ’em up, and remind them that there’s still time…and even if there isn’t time, you play to the final second out of dignity and self-respect, if nothing else. Four, those missing seniors are guys that you don’t have to remind about how to dress out, how to study, how to practice, how to stand on the sidelines, etc. The coaches are going to be filling those missing thirty five rosters with freshmen over the next two years. Instead of jumping right into the coaching, there’s going to be a lot of time teaching those kids just how to line up and how we do things. When you’ve got as finite a time as coaches have, you want to spend as little time as possible on the knuckleheaded stuff.

  3. Daily Update 09/16/2008 at 4:32 PM #

    So we need a class of 25-30 players essentially.

    Recruiting this year isn’t going that great IMO anyways, so going 2-10 or something like that this year is going to make it very difficult when this year’s class is so essential to getting this program turned around.

    Again, this job ended up being a total rebuild. Not even a good football coach can necessarily turn these situations around.

  4. Old School Wolf 09/16/2008 at 4:37 PM #

    Great work toddl. Have enjoyed your work for awhile. Not too sure how voluntary those freshmen redshirts are though. I choose to remember the good that Chuck did for us and am glad that TOB is here now. TOB has lost some of his guys and some of Chucks but there weren’t many of Chuck’s guys to lose. The attrition rate should decline from here. Another point about our limited numbers is that of the 10 seniors you list I think two are here because of TOB (Holmes & Willis )and three were walk-ons. (Green, Clemmons, and Leonard.) To paraphrase Admiral Painter in the Hunt for Red October- You boo birds might want to cut the team and coaches a little slack.

  5. whitefang 09/16/2008 at 5:17 PM #

    Good work putting this together. I guess it is amazing we can finish a game on our feet.
    Noah – ditto. I for one need to be a little more patient. Looking at these numbers the only way we could expect to even be decent would have been to have a miraculously injury-free season. Obviously we have had the opposite of that.

    Looking back at the top teams in last season’s recruiting Alabama had 32 commits and we had 25 with 17 I think still left in the numbers somewhere above. So we would definitely need to be high 20’s. Scholarship availability ain’t gonna be our problem. Qualified bodies to fill them may. Looks like we have 9 commits so far compared with my equally futile substitute school Virgina with 19. Of course half of theirs usually don’t qualify academically. But we’ve got a lot of work to do.

  6. ncsslim 09/16/2008 at 6:14 PM #

    Noah, I asked a question on a previous subject about why our core offensive linemen are so seemingly less talented than say, Wake Forest. By your answer (“you can’t expect miracles”, basically), you seemed to think I was attacking O’Brien, and imagine I’ve now become one of the many “complaining” about the current coaching staff.

    I’ll overlook the two D-Line transitions, even though Amato’s similar strategy provided immediate results, and ask (again): are guys like McCuller (jr), Crouch (sr), Barbee (jr), Greene (sr), Williams (r-so), and Vermiglio (so) so overwhelmed at this level that they can’t be led to some semblance of a remotely cohesive unit?

    Again, is the talent level that Wake (or anyone – William and Mary? – for that matter) brings in so night-and-day above ours that leads to the result that is shown on the field? I’m not remotely a TOB detractor (glad to have him), but as a oldtime o-lineman myself, I’m just purplexed by this situation.

  7. Ed89 09/16/2008 at 6:38 PM #

    ^^^This is the reason I would rarely draft an offensive lineman with my #1 draft pick….you just never know. Get your skill players, then get solid linemen. Good skill players (esp. QB and RB) can make linemen look very good. And I know that the reverse is very true also. Note, TOB got Glennon, then got Mattes. The problem is right now, we have neither, but I do think we are improving in both areas. The problem is CTC did not stress the importance of OL enough. I think TOB is correcting the problem, but it will take time. He’s got his QB of the future, and he’s got several future All-ACC linemen IMHO (Mattes, for one).

  8. ncsslim 09/16/2008 at 6:43 PM #

    ^ I would have thought we had (at least) one (Vermiglio?) in Crouch as well. Apparently not!

  9. Noah 09/16/2008 at 7:10 PM #

    Noah, I asked a question on a previous subject about why our core offensive linemen are so seemingly less talented than say, Wake Forest. By your answer (”you can’t expect miracles”, basically), you seemed to think I was attacking O’Brien, and imagine I’ve now become one of the many “complaining” about the current coaching staff.

    I think you might not have understood my answer. Or I wasn’t clear in answering you.

    I didn’t take your question as an attack on O’Brien. I think Amato deserves some criticism for not being very good at spotting OL prospects. There is a variety of reasons why rankings for OL prospects ought to be taken with a grain of salt. I won’t go into all of those since they ought to be fairly self-evident (how many legit D1-sized OL do you even see in HS?)

    Being able to spot good OL prospects is a real gift. Why did we have such success under O’Cain and Sheridan? Take a look at who our OL coach was. He’s doing the same thing at Vandy. O’Brien has a good reputation for having the same eye. And Jim Grobe has a reputation for being one of the premier football minds in the nation.

    Chuck had an eye for the DL. I’ll give him that. He found and signed guys like John McCargo and Alan Michael Cash and others that no one else wanted. But he didn’t have the same gift for linemen on the other side of the ball.

  10. ncsslim 09/16/2008 at 7:27 PM #

    I still find it amazing that we have assimulated such a cast of lovable losers under one tent and have done so for the last five years or so….. As far as the Vermig v Bedics, I would assume you have to make at least somewhat of a commitment when asking a guy to make that kind of change. I would think somewhat a similar issue in Larson v Barbee. Unless he’s a total stud (quite doubtful), or Andy a complete dud (possible), Ted was given quite a benefit of doubt after the USC debacle. O-lineman typically don’t receive such gifts after public displays of ineptitude. No need to respond; hopefully things will improve in the future. I see very little chance in anything else!

  11. newone 09/16/2008 at 7:28 PM #

    O’Brien is partly to blame for the scholarship crunch. Let’s see under his watch we had a tight end leave the program that he recruited. He recruited and signed a terrible punter that cannot even beat out a walkon. He lost the Canadian offensive lineman. He had 20% of last years class fail to qaulify. They knew two had no chance to qaulify! He had two additional recruits (and yes Kyle Linney was one of his even though Amato offered, O’Brien re-recruited him)transfer out. I may be missing more. So before we continue to blame Amato for everything O’Brien needs to held accountable too.

    Also, a reasonable question is when is O’Brien to be judge for his performance? Is it next year? Is it four years from now since we are giving him a free pass for this year and last year? I remember all of the HSSNers saying his first five years could be forgotten.

    A couple of things to be concerned about:

    1) We have an administration that expects no performance based results.

    2) In the last 20 years NCSU has no record of significantly improving floundering programs.

  12. Greywolf 09/16/2008 at 7:53 PM #

    “guys like McCuller (jr), Crouch (sr), Barbee (jr), Greene (sr), Williams (r-so), and Vermiglio (so) so overwhelmed at this level that they can’t be led to some semblance of a remotely cohesive unit?

    Again, is the talent level that Wake (or anyone – William and Mary? – for that matter) brings in so night-and-day above ours that leads”

    Good question and a fair question. Now consider that we put in an entirely new offense this spring for Russell Wilson and maybe it’s not known here what it takes for even very good offensive linemen to gel into a cohesive unit. I saw Coach Larry Bechtel (OL coach for L. Holtz when he had the privilege of coaching at NCSU) spend and a good portion of a Thursday practice (back when practices were open) going through the playbook against different defenses and setups he expected to see on Saturday. ALL THEY DID was take their first step and hold it. Bechtel could immediately see it and corrected it and called the next defense. The lines were one behind the other and when a step was off, it was obvious. Amazing. These guys had to know both mentally and physically the play, their assignment including the correct first step. (If you don’t know the importance of the correct firts step, well…)

    Just like the PAT and FG there is one helluva lot to a football play from the line’s perspective. Instead of dissing center Ted Larsen for a bad snap, marvel at his playing the toughest (IMNSHO) position, learning a new offense (this might have been an advantage), and winning the starting job. Ladies, that is mind-boggling. It has been said that one player or another makes a mistake an that blows up the play. Just one miss-step and the defender is in Wilson’s face. Missed first step.

    We also have no earthly idea who missed what block. That tackle looks real stupid when the center makes the blocking call with 80,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs and doing the wave (LOL) and you miss your assignment or your assigned defender dropped into pass coverage while the back misses his assignment and lets the DE tear your QBs head off. That sweat had run down in your ears didn’t make it any easier.

    A likely story of why some non-scollies are getting playing time is they learned the footwork. Crouch is likely a back-up because he doesn’t know the footwork and makes mistakes that negate his effectiveness.

    When the OL trips its QB or RB, I’d bet the first step was off. Any takers?

    Back to the question as to why our linemen don’t compare to WF linemen with 3 or 4 or 5 years experience running the same plays, learning the footworkm working with the same teammates, etc., do you really think it the same as our guys with a spring and fall practice’s worth of training and playing together? Same thing is true with Bill and his sister.(W&M)

  13. SEAT.5.F.2 09/16/2008 at 7:59 PM #

    TOB wasn’t perfect in year one of recruiting a full year, but he did bring in some good talent. He brought some guys with him from BC but Archer and McCallum are new to his system and he is back in the SE for the first time in awhile. He will get it fine tuned.

    If you want a thirty man class to come in every time then spend 80 million on a coach like Saban or drop your standards to ECU. Until then enjoy the U – turn the cruise ship is making.

  14. newone 09/16/2008 at 8:17 PM #

    O’Brien should not have to fine tune his recruiting. Only at NCSU can we expect a coach to fine tune recruiting. He has been recruiting since his assistant days at UVA.

    I think what we need is when we sign a class of 10 players or 30 players, over 90% to 95% qualify and contribute over some time period of 4 to 5 years. Through two years of O’Brien, we are failing in that category and that is not a good sign especially for a program that was plagued with that problem the previous three years.

  15. Greywolf 09/16/2008 at 8:22 PM #

    YOu gotta love the internet… with our fantasy football coaching skills and our xbox knowledge, we get to talk shit about a young man who is in the weight room cleaning and jerking dumbbells while we dumb bells are in the restroom cleaning jerk-off from our waist. There are some real snot-nosed, pimple-faced, chicken-shit, so-called fans posting here. Strong opinion to follow. And some damn good fans too.

  16. Dogbreath 09/16/2008 at 8:50 PM #

    If you look at the programs (Wake, BC, Va Tech) that consistently produce good offensive lines without busloads of Street and Smith All-American prepsters, there is a pattern.

    Rather than signing 320 lb lardasses out of high school who cannot move their feet for their fat bellies, they go out and get the 260-280 lb guys who have legitimate frames to work with.

    By taking an incremental approach, along with some patience, they have built a nice system of redshirting these guys to 1) learn the footwork as Greywolf so eloquently explained, and 2) build the requisite strength to compete at a high level.

    I am encouraged by what I have seen in the last 2 classes, players who fit the above described mold:

    Henry Lawson 6’3 289
    Desmond Roberts 6’5 265
    Jake Vermiglio 6’5 298
    Zach Allen 6’2 304
    Sam Jones 6’6 275
    RJ Mattes 6’6 258
    Andrew Wallace 6’6 259

    Unfortunately, we have already attrited Jaradat, Golder, and Whaley. We need to stop this trend.

  17. RabidWolf 09/16/2008 at 8:51 PM #

    Thank you, Greywolf. It’s about time someone else started to call out the fair weather fans posting here.

    It’s really easy to talk shit from the armchair.

  18. ncsslim 09/16/2008 at 9:04 PM #

    Greywolf, good insight… I remember Coach Bech well; I spent two years as a walk-on going through his drills (like I said, I’m an old o-lineman!). Not the most fun period of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I guess the “3-4-5 year” Wake analogy certainly rings true, but not sure it explains why Clemson can start 3 freshman against a reasonably talented,, experiienced d-line and more than hold their own. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who liked that match up going into the game.

  19. Primewolf 09/16/2008 at 9:09 PM #

    I like TOB. I don’t know if he has that leadership quality that makes you want to put your soul on the line. I feel like he has all the other ingredients of a suberb coach, including integrity, honesty, football knowledge, attracting and keeping good assistancts, good public speaking with few gaffs, etc.

    Does he make it fun and do the players really love playing for him. Maybe that is the job of the assistants more so than the head coach.

  20. b 09/16/2008 at 9:38 PM #

    Great point dogbreath, the former staff looked to trim 330 pounders down, and this staff is looking to bulk 270 pounders up. Its better to add weight to an athlete, than make an athlete out of big body.

    I think Baker is a RS Jr., so he theorhetically could return next year if not this year.

    The depth issue also hurts in practice, even with the redshirts filling out scout teams. Ideally guys would be competing throughout the week for the privilege to make the 2-deep. With so few guys at a true D1 level, the 1st teams don’t get a solid look in practice and are constantly catching up on Saturdays.

    And every team has freshman who don’t qualify, last years class could be attributed to a first year scramble, and a lot of those guys would have been Amato recruits the staff was trying to hold on to out of necessity.

    In football, a program like ours that doesn’t have recruits beating the door down should give the coach at least four years to show signs. If you are really watching, and watched LY, you would see weekly improvement. This type of team will be very different in late October into November. There are a maybe 5 programs in the whole land that could have the type of injury problems we have and not miss a beat. Let a guy get his players in and develop them to Srs before you go looking for the headsman. Its not basketball where two recruits can essentially turn the program around overnight, and we aren’t Alabama or USC where you can pick and choose who you want to sign even if you can’t coach a lick.

  21. Greywolf 09/16/2008 at 9:50 PM #

    Sep 16th, 2008 at 9:04 pm
    Greywolf, good insight… I remember Coach Bech well; I spent two years as a walk-on going through his drills (like I said, I’m an old o-lineman!). Not the most fun period of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I guess the “3-4-5 year” Wake analogy certainly rings true, but not sure it explains why Clemson can start 3 freshman against a reasonably talented,, experiienced d-line and more than hold their own.”


    Coach Bechtel was the first guy I ever saw with his cap turned backwards. And do you remember how LH never referred to the Wolfpack as anything other than “North Carolina State University?”
    And when asked what he liked most about North Carolina State University, he answered, “When they play the fight-song after we score a touchdown.”

    The “3-4-5 year” Wake analogy wasn’t intended to explain the Clemson phenomenon. Wake, nor NCSU at this time, has that level of talent on their team nor do they historically recruit those type athletes. (See Dogbreath above)

    One thing Clemson did we did not do to help our O-line was run a slew of man in motion pitches and fakes to the pitch man. This simple tactic creates just enough hesitation to allow lesser skilled O-linemen to function without being over-powered. I have already said my piece about this in another thread. Well, almost. TJ Graham would be nearly as effective as Clemson’s Ford in this scheme.

    I’d like to see us break out that package against the Pilates Saturday.

  22. choppack1 09/16/2008 at 9:55 PM #

    Primewolf – I’m sure people said the same thing about Tom Coughlin. He’s another notorious hard-ass w/out much personality. Some would say the same about Bellicheck.

    Really, I don’t give a tinker’s damn about coaches personality, shoes, sunglasses or girth. I’ve seen enough sports to realize that there isn’t a “cookie cutter” model for successful coaches. The only thing you can do is give TOB a chance – give him 4-5 years, if the wheels fall off – give him 3. He’s enjoyed a certain level of success at the Division 1A level and in the ACC and Big East – and against all odds, he almost got us to a bowl game last year.

    I’d be less than honest if I said I was 100% confident he’d work out. But it’s way too early in this journey to start jumping ship – we need to give someone who has a proven successful track record a few years to do it here.

  23. Old School Wolf 09/16/2008 at 10:02 PM #

    Newone- my take on TOB recruiting; has a plan that brings in a balanced class by position and is described as a relentless recruiter. 2007-retain Chuck’s recruits, get some BC targets,and recruit JC for positions of need. 2008- concentrate on NC early, early. Bring in a full team but particular linemen. Took some chances on some “SEC type” prospects that didn’t make grades during spring semester. (Hopes to bring them here as upperclassmen.) Dominated NC so much that Butch had to completely change his strategy ( no more waiting till later in year to sign majority of class and scheduled 2008 summer recruiting events at same time as TOB.) For 2009 we are behind UNC-ch in signing NC names but are seemingly still in the running for specific position targets. We were the first to offer many prospects according to their profiles. Continuing to add late developing HS names and JC names should come later in year. We seem to be recruiting more against WF than I remember and now Duke is starting to bite us in the ass. We are already hard after 2010 NC. I think TOB was willing to be judged on his recruiting since day one. We all know he really doesn’t care what the recruiting experts or other coaches think about his recruits as long as his staff is on board with evaluations.

  24. papackman 09/17/2008 at 5:22 AM #

    If we gotta tolerate another rebuilding year or two…fine. I we gotta loose due to injury or lack of talent…fine. JUST BEAT THE TARHOLES!!!

  25. howlie 09/17/2008 at 6:45 AM #

    (Of course we don’t know who will be lost this week but…) ‘Would love to see other people’s best guess of which injured players we could see returning to action NEXT Saturday…

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