How Bare Was The Cupboard?

As the 2013 NC State football season is slowly spiraling into the abyss, there has been a lot of discussion about the new coaching staff as well as the talent level inherited by Dave Doeren. The excellent guest column from Monday gives a lot of perspective on the time needed to turn around the football program as did this entry that points out that there’s no place to go but up. This entry is sort of a companion piece that takes a look at the talent level the three previous football coaches inherited for some perspective on the players Coach Doeren was left to work with.

When AD Debbie Yow fired Tom O’Brien she had the following to say about recruiting: “I have a great deal of respect for people who are aggressive, assertive recruiters,” Yow said. “I believe in this day and age, it is required.”

That lack of aggression under the previous coaching staff has been rearing its ugly head this season. According to, NC State’s 2012 recruiting class ranked 61st, the 2011 class ranked 75th, the 2010 class was ranked 47th and the 2009 class was ranked 39th. The 2013 class that was a combo of O’Brien & Doeren was ranked 53rd.

So what did Coach Doeren have to work with when he arrived in Raleigh and how does that compare with the talent levels the previous 3 head coaches inherited?

10 players on Tom O’Brien’s first team in 2007 made it to the NFL.
13 players from Chuck Amato’s first team in 2000 made it to the NFL.
8 players from Mike O’Cain’s first team in 1993 made it to the NFL.

With all due respect to the players on the current roster, who on the 2013 Wolfpack team will be suiting up on Sundays? The first name that comes to mind is our kicker. Maybe Shadrach Thornton, maybe Dontae Johnson, maybe one or two of the guys on the d-line, maybe a healthy Rob Crisp. But all those are really big maybes.

For some perspective, TOB inherited Andre Brown, Nate Irving and Russell Wilson. Chuck had Philip Rivers, Koren Robinson, Jerricho Cotchery, Adrian Wilson, Terrence Holt & Levar Fisher. MOC had Damien Covington, Carl Reeves and Dewayne Washington. All those guys you could look at and easily say, “Yeah, that guy’s good, he’ll be playing on Sundays”. I honestly can’t say that about a single player on this year’s team. And I mean no disrespect by that. I appreciate these guys suiting up in the red and white but they obviously need some more help.

Of course a good QB can cure a lot of ills on a football team. Mike O’Cain had 2 sport star Terry Harvey at QB. Chuck Amato had a future NFL Pro Bowl QB in Philip Rivers. Tom O’Brien had Daniel Evans (even though he had limitations, he knew what he was capable of) and a future NFL pro bowl QB in Russell Wilson waiting in the wings. Dave Doeren inherited Pete Thomas (who hadn’t played in a year because of transferring from Colorado St) and Manny Stocker (who got a whopping 2 pass attempts of experience backing up Mike Glennon). Doeren had to go out and find Brandon Mitchell himself and Mitchell had been playing receiver at Arkansas. Not quite the Jordan Lynch Doeren was used to lining up under center.

To give our QB situation some perspective:

Harrison Beck’s QB rating in his 2 years at State: 93.41 and 95.41
Brandon Mitchell’s QB rating this year: 92.39

Jay Davis’s QB rating his Jr year (full time starting QB): 115.44
Pete Thomas’s QB rating this year: 112.87

Using QB rating as a barometer, Brandon Mitchell is playing worse than Harrison Beck and Pete Thomas is playing worse than Jay Davis. Let that sink in.

Listed below are the NFL players on each coach’s first team.
Disclaimer: For true freshman it’s hard to know where to give the credit for recruiting that player. For sake of this argument I’m counting true freshman as inherited by the new coach, there are enough examples like Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson & Markus Kuhn where the previous staff did a lot of the heavy lifting in recruiting. There are also lineman that switched sides of the ball like Sean Locklear and Ted Larsen so I tried to list them where they ultimately ended up playing.

Tom O’Brien – 2007 (5-7)

Andre Brown – Jr – RB
Audie Cole – Fr – LB
Anthony Hill – Sr – TE
Nate Irving – Fr-R – LB
Markus Kuhn – Fr – DL
Ted Larsen – So-R – C
DaJuan Morgan – Jr-R – SS
DeMario Pressley – Sr – DT
J.R. Sweezy – Fr – DL
Russell Wilson – Fr – QB

On offense, TOB inherited NFL caliber players at running back (Brown), tight end (Hill), center (Larsen) and quarterback (Wilson), although Wilson redshirted that season. On defense, 2 linebackers (Cole & Irving), 3 d-linemen (Kuhn, Pressley & Sweezy) and a defensive back (Morgan).

Chuck Amato – 2000 (8-4)

Jarvis Borum – Sr-R – OT
Chris Colmer – Fr-R – OT
Jerricho Cotchery – Fr – WR
Levar Fisher – Jr – LB
Terrence Holt – So-R – S
Scott Kooistra – So – OT
Sean Locklear – Fr-R – OL
Philip Rivers – Fr – QB
Koren Robinson – So-R – WR
Corey Smith – Jr-R – DE
Clayton White – Sr-R – LB
Brian Williams – Jr – DB
Adrian Wilson – Jr – DB

On offense Chuck inherited NFL caliber players at QB (Rivers), 2 wide receivers (Robinson & Cotchery) and 4 offensive lineman (Borum, Colmer, Kooistra & Locklear). On defense, 2 linebackers (Fisher & White), a defensive lineman (Smith) and 3 defensive backs (Holt, Williams & Wilson).

Mike O’Cain – 1993 (7-5)

Ricky Bell – Fr – SS
Damien Covington – Jr – LB
Gary Downs – Sr – RB
George Hegamin – So – OT
Kenny Harris – Fr – SS
Carl Reeves – Jr – DT
William Strong – Jr – CB
Dewayne Washington – Sr – DB

On offense MOC inherited a running back (Downs) and an offensive lineman (Hegamin). On defense, a linebacker (Covington), a d-lineman (Reeves), and 4 defensive backs (Bell, Harris, Strong & Washington). WR Eddie Goines was also on this team, if he doesn’t get injured I would guess he would have made an NFL roster. And of course MOC was an assistant under previous head coach Dick Sheridan so he was partially responsible for the talent he took over.

As you can see, the 3 previous head coaches all inherited some pretty good NFL level talent when they took over the job. However, Dave Doeren is having to deal with the recruiting results that was part of Tom O’Brien being fired.

About WV Wolf

Graduated from NCSU in 1996 with a degree in statistics. Born and inbred in West "By God" Virginia and now live in Raleigh where I spend my time watching the Wolfpack, the Mountaineers and the Carolina Hurricanes as well as making bar graphs for SFN. I'm @wvncsu on the Twitter machine.

'13 Football Chuck Amato Dave Doeren Football Recruiting NCS Football Tom O'Brien

30 Responses to How Bare Was The Cupboard?

  1. eas 11/14/2013 at 10:24 AM #

    What I’ve never understood is how we seem to always go from the TOP to the Bottom with QB’s? It’s like everytime we have a great QB it is a guarantee that the next few years after their departure will be QB’s that are lucky just to make Divison 1 FB? We seem to be very content with having either the best QB or the worse…..nothing in between. For the most part that has been the pattern with MOC, CTC & TOB (slight exception with the Giraffe). I hope DD breaks the cycle.

  2. pakfanistan 11/14/2013 at 10:45 AM #

    That might be a function of our position in the football hierarchy.

    You’re a good qb recruit, why go to NC State with Wilson and Glennon where you might never get the chance to play?

    By contrast, you’re a good qb recruit, why not go to NC State where you have to compete against Daniel Evans….

  3. newt 11/14/2013 at 10:48 AM #

    I think it’s hard to tell for sure. I could also say that all the previous coaches took 2 and maybe 3-star players and created NFL players out of them. Every QB Dana Bible coached became an NFL QB, regardless of high school ranking and style of play, so was it the players?

    Just saying I think time will tell. Definitely hard to look good without good QB play.

  4. DC_wolf 11/14/2013 at 10:59 AM #

    Nice job, WV – & well laid out. The best line to me, out of several good ones was:

    “With all due respect to the players on the current roster, who on the 2013 Wolfpack team will be suiting up on Sundays?”

    To be honest, I had never thought about it in this way, but it’s a valid question w/(as you point out) some troubling answers. 1 player you may be overlooking from the current roster is B. Underwood, who I believe now holds the record for consecutive games w/a TD catch (granted, that was last year w/a future NFL QB throwing passes).

    A guy off Amato’s 1st team that also played out of his skin was RB Ray Robinson who made huge contributions on offense & was a nice outlet for Rivers on occasion. In retrospect, that 1st class for Amato was loaded, & no small amount due to O’Cain.

  5. Alpha Wolf 11/14/2013 at 11:40 AM #

    “With all due respect to the players on the current roster, who on the 2013 Wolfpack team will be suiting up on Sundays?”

    Niklas Sade is the only one I can think of.

  6. blpack 11/14/2013 at 11:54 AM #

    Sobering when you break down the classes that way. We are almost completely rebuilding.

  7. ryebread 11/14/2013 at 1:13 PM #

    Newt: Sorry, but every QB that Bible coached didn’t make the NFL. Bible coached Evans, Burke and Beck.

    He also coached Pete Thomas last year sitting on the bench. I’m sorry, but I don’t care who is calling the plays this year, Thomas isn’t making the NFL.

    On the original post, this has been my argument since the Spring game. What NFL talent is on this team? I’ve got Sade, a couple of DL, maybe Thornton. That’s about it.

  8. PackFamily 11/14/2013 at 1:29 PM #

    Since the forums are dead, i’ll post this here:

    Check out this video. I’ve heard about this guy. He never punts and always does an on-side kick. Watch at the 1:45 mark when he explains the probabilities of going for it, even within your own 10 yard line. Then again at the 4:10 mark when he compares a kickoff to a turnover.

    It’s different at his team’s level, without elite athletes and big time kickers, but you can see this being adopted by other teams.

  9. wilmwolf80 11/14/2013 at 2:02 PM #

    There are several D-line starters that have NFL potential. Quintin Payton would seem to have the physical intangibles for playing WR at the next level, but he rarely is used in the offense. Sade and Thorton both have Sunday ability.

    Actually, the use of the WRs has been one of my main questions of the coaching staff. Smith, Underwood, and Payton seemed on the surface to be a good combo of receivers returning this year, but the underclassmen seem to be getting most of the reps. Perhaps it is because our QBs can’t seem to stay in the pocket for more than 2 seconds without checking down or scrambling that the vertical threats haven’t gotten as much play. I don’t know, I’d love to ask the question.

    With regards to the QBs, it is easy to tell with the eye test that Thomas and Mitchell have more skill than the Davis, Evans, Beck, Stone group. For whatever reason, those skills don’t translate to on the field success. Our two QBs this year both have fatal flaws. For Thomas, he has happy feet. Whatever “it” is that it takes for a QB to stand tall in the pocket and survey the field, he doesn’t have “it”. He has shown that he is perfectly capable of making the throws, but as soon as his protection breaks down, which admittedly doesn’t take long, he is moving, As for Mitchell, he is just not accurate enough to succeed throwing the ball, and has made some very poor decisions on top of that. It is as if he did nothing but watch Wilson’s old game tape in the off season, and thinks that he too can scramble and make those same ridiculous throws that Russell used to. He just doesn’t have that ability. He clearly has the physical talents- the size, athletic ability, strong arm, but is missing that decision making. In his defense, missing the “easy” games certainly hurt his development. To be thrown to the fire in the FSU game was a mistake IMO.

    When it comes down to it, there is more to recruiting than landing the superstars. When you look at teams like FSU, not that we can recruit in their league, even the guys on their second team have the skills to start. We just don’t have that, and there is plenty of blame to go around for that lack of depth of talent.

  10. PoppaJohn 11/14/2013 at 2:11 PM #

    Great analysis, confirming what I thought was the case but didn’t have the facts to support it.
    We have less talent on this team than the teams we are playing against – normally, that means you lose.
    My prediction is that, assuming DD can elevate the program to being very competitive in 2-3 years which I expect, no one on this season’s team will be starting. Few will be playing at all. Let’s just put this season behind us and dig a deep hole and bury it.

  11. BJD95 11/14/2013 at 2:15 PM #

    IMHO, Thornton doesn’t have the speed to be a “lightning” back in the NFL, nor the size to be “thunder.” Good college player, but not NFL.

    Sade is the only probable pro. A few DL have a reasonable chance to make a roster, but not first or second day draftable.

  12. Khan 11/14/2013 at 2:20 PM #

    Good article and well-reasoned.

    I would be surprised if we win another game this year. I would honestly be surprised. That’s sad.

  13. Wulfpack 11/14/2013 at 2:45 PM #

    Thanks, TOB.

  14. ajsnyder85 11/14/2013 at 3:05 PM #

    I think this is an excellent way to look at things but for all coaches except Doeren, we have the benefit of hindsight to be able to determine who was and wasn’t NFL calibur. How many of these future NFLers were truly NFL calibur in their coach’s first year?

    Look at TOB’s first year. Over half those kids were freshmen and most of them had to work their behinds off to get where they were by the time they were ready to be drafted. Let’s give credit where credit is due. TOB and his staff had a decent knack for developing kids.

    I could easily see a number of Doeren’s first team developing into NFL players. We simply won’t be able to tell for another three or four years.

    On a side note, why is everyone so high on Sade? He kicks a lot of FG’s, but shouldn’t any D1 level kicker? The kid’s +40 percentage seems horrible.

  15. DC_wolf 11/14/2013 at 3:34 PM #

    wilmwolf, I’ve had the EXACT same questions about the use of the WRs Smith, Underwood, and Payton this season, especially considering their production last year. To look at Payton on the field you would think he has all the gifts to make it not only in college but @ the next level – but it just isn’t happening..

    There can sometimes be resentment / pushback of a new system and the staff implementing it, I’ve often considered that as a reason the frosh WRs were being emphasized early & often as opposed to the returning veterans.

  16. tjfoose1 11/14/2013 at 3:40 PM #

    Adding to the above, from what I’ve seen, Caldwell has a long shot chance if the switch stays on and the curve doesn’t flatten (I think he’ll at least get invited to camp). Valdes-Scantling has potential. Rashard has a chance, assuming he can play well on kick offs and punt teams.

    Brissett is an unknown.

    Crisp is done (barring ‘adjustments’) concussion or no concussion.

    But to the point of the column, aside from Rashard, Doeren gets the credit, not TOB, for the additions I offered.

  17. WV Wolf 11/14/2013 at 3:52 PM #

    My thoughts on Underwood and Payton is that neither of them block very well at all. And on the read option/designed runs by the QB, jet sweeps, screens, etc, WRs that block are important. If the younger guys are more willing to block, they get more PT.

  18. DC_wolf 11/14/2013 at 3:59 PM #

    Good point about blocking, & I remember it being mentioned in the 1st few games that Underwood was still working on his blocking…

  19. Alpha Wolf 11/14/2013 at 4:13 PM #

    Smith, Underwood, and Payton seemed on the surface to be a good combo of receivers returning this year

    It’s worth pointing out that Underwood is done for the year due to injury.

  20. tjfoose1 11/14/2013 at 5:00 PM #

    ^ And the loss of Underwood’s speed hurts every position on the offense.

  21. Mike 11/14/2013 at 6:12 PM #

    How bare was the cupboard? I stated this on the other article – but when Doeren arrived he made a comment about a lack of talent.

    While I dont think he was trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, he was just stating what he saw of our talent level. Now, put the statement in perspective.

    DD did not make the comment coming from Alabama, where certainly any coach would see a drop in talent. DD made the comment coming from a MAC school, with players mostly ignored by the major D-1 schools in Big10 land. So for DD to make the comment about our talent in comparison to what he had at NI – THAT should tell you how bare our cupboard really is.

  22. eas 11/14/2013 at 6:53 PM #

    True that is a significant statement coming from a MAC school regarding talent. However, it is also an excellent way to “cushion” your first years results. Do great and you come of looking good with less talent. Do bad with little talent and you have a good excuse for a bad year. Not saying this was the intent but hey it’s a good plan.

    We will be fine with DD.

  23. john of sparta 11/14/2013 at 8:10 PM #

    have we ever gone oh-fer
    in conference in the ACC?

  24. graywolf 11/14/2013 at 8:53 PM #

    ^ 1959 was the last time

  25. Prowling Woofie 11/15/2013 at 8:36 AM #

    …When the ACC was a seven team league, and we played everyone each year. Those were the days…

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