Last week was National Signing Day. Across most of the South this is a pseudo holiday. I know back when I was a student at State I would always skip class to sit in my dorm/apartment and track our recruiting class all day. Of course back then we were bringing in much higher rated classes (one top 10 and three straight top 25′s) than we are nowadays. Some of that is due to our coaching staff’s recruiting philosophies (they’d rather not battle against the big boys) and some of it is due to our coaches’ personalities not resonating that well with young elite Southern athletes. Anyway lets get to the breakdown of the 2011 recruiting class.
A lot of NC State websites and blogs have sugar coated this class, but I’m going to be blunt … it’s not very good. Rivals.com had it ranked dead last in the ACC and Scout.com had it ranked only ahead of Wake Forest in the ACC. When one of your goals is to compete for conference championships it’s never a good thing to be last at anything unless your talking about the quantity of hit pieces written about you by the N&O’s resident buffoon Barry Saunders. A lot of people discredit the recruiting rankings, and I’ll admit they are not the be-all end-all, but they do tell a lot. If you don’t believe me just check out the four part recruiting series by the Yahoo! Sports Dr. Saturday college football blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).
Another red flag about this class was that it was highlighted by a kicker, punter, and long snapper. Don’t get me wrong good special teams play is critical to a team’s success, but it’s not a good thing when your recruiting class is highlighted by 3 specialists. Most college kickers, punters, and long snappers are walk-ons for a reason. Remember the last highly recruited kicker we signed? Yeah, that didn’t turn out so well.
Forget about rankings and specialists, though, we missed on a lot of our primary targets. What makes a mediocre class even worse is not getting your main guys and having to fall back to your second and third options. Having said all that I’m not going to totally blast all the recruits we signed. They are going to be the Wolfpackers that we’ll all be rooting on for the next 4-5 years, but this class seems to be void of any future superstars.
Of course you never know when the next Stephen Tulloch, Manny Lawson, John McCargo, Russell Wilson, or Nate Irving (all rated 2 stars by at least one of the recruiting services) will turn up, but relying on a lot of sleepers is not the best way to go about it. This group of guys does have good size and speed and most seem to be hard working, coachable kids so I have faith that most will turn into solid contributors. I could talk about all the recruits individually, but I think it’s impossible to really know how they’ll all translate to the college game. So I’m just going to take a shot at some of the ones I’m most excited about and give my non-expert opinion on them.
WR Hakeem Flowers (#8) … We lose our top 3 WRs from last year so we had a big need here to restock our arsenal. We stole Flowers away from Michigan late in the recruiting process after Rich Rodriguez was fired. He’s a tall, speedy, possession receiver that runs great routes so he could turn out to be the focal point of the offense in the future. Also a high school track star that won his region last year in the 100-meter and 2oo-meter. Compares to Jerricho Cotchery.
DT Ty McGill (#9) … His recruitment didn’t pick up until late in the process due to concerns over his grades. This caused him to fly under the radar a little so he’s my pick for the sleeper of this class. He’s slightly undersized for an interior defensive lineman, but he’ll make up for that with his quickness. Was a team captain on both his high school football and basketball teams. Compares to Alan-Michael Cash.
S Rodman Noel (#2) … A big fast safety with a lot of athleticism that should be a great fit in our defensive system. The highest rated recruit of the class. We have a lot of depth in the secondary, but he attended prep school this past year so he could come in and make an impact right away if needed. Originally committed to Maryland, but changed his commitment after Ralph Friedgen was fired. Could eventually move to LB. Compares to LeRue Rumph.
DE/LB Mike Rose (#6) … He’s an All-Region sprinter on his high school track team so he’ll give us great speed off the edge, but he needs to bulk up some to reach his full football potential. Originally committed to Wake Forest, but changed his mind because he felt State was the “right choice” and he wanted to “play big-time football.” Compares to Manny Lawson.