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February 17, 2011

State of the position: Safeties

With the 2010 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 2010, and how the future shapes up. We continue with the safety position.


Season Breakdown


Preseason spin
The question at safety was did the young players learn from their growing pains of 2009. There was little question that redshirt sophomore Earl Wolff and sophomore Brandan Bishop, the projected starters, gained valuable experience as rookies, but would they take the step forward and use that to their advantage?

The other question at safety was depth. Redshirt freshmen Donald Coleman and Everett Proctor were expected to be pushed by well-regarded recruits D.J. Green and Dontae Johnson.

Reality
The answer to the first question was that yes, they did learn. Both Wolff and Bishop had good years for the Wolfpack. Wolff led the team in tackles with 95, including 4.5 for loss and a pair of sacks, tied linebacker Nate Irving with a team-high three forced fumbles, broke up a pair of passes, picked off one and recovered a fumble. By the end of the year, some area sports journalists were even talking about Wolff as a potential All-ACC candidate.

Bishop made several clutch plays for the Wolfpack. He finished the year with 66 tackles, including one for a loss, and had a team-high four interceptions. One of Bishop's picks was a highlight-worthy interception in the fourth quarter of the Champs Sports Bowl to help seal the win over the Wolfpack. Bishop also broke up four passes and forced one memorable fumble against Central Florida to clinch a 28-21 win over the Knights in Orlando.

The two true freshmen, Green and Johnson, won the backup roles. Johnson had 22 tackles and a pass breakup while Green had 16 tackles.


Analyzing Recruiting Trend


The Supposed Foundation
By the foundation, we mean high school players that were signed in the Classes of 2006, 2007 and 2008 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.

Jordan Delegal, Class of 2006
Javon Walker, Class of 2006
Jimmaul Simmons, Class of 2007
Roy Mangram, Class of 2008
Earl Wolff, Class of 2008

Analysis: It has been a struggle to lay a foundation for the safety position. Delegal and Mangram never played a snap for NC State, and Simmons and Walker had their careers cut short. Simmons quit the team before the 2009 season while Walker suffered a serious knee injury just as his promising career appeared poised to take off. It should also be noted that class of 2007 recruit Justin Byers is now at cornerback.

The good news is that Wolff, a sleeper unearthed during summer camp, has proven to be a find.

The Future?
The future are high school and prep players that signed in 2009 through 2011.

Brandan Bishop, Class of 2009
Donald Coleman, Class of 2009
D.J. Green, Class of 2010
Dontae Johnson, Class of 2010
Peter Singer, Class of 2010
Hakim Jones, Class of 2011
Rodman Noel, Class of 2011
Josh Sessoms, Class of 2012

Analysis: The future looks bright. Bishop established himself this year, while Green and Johnson add even more promise. There are rumors that Green could move to linebacker however. Singer never enrolled at NC State, but in Jones, Noel and Sessoms, NC State is adding more physical talent. All three are at least 6-foot-3.


State Of The Position


It took awhile, but on paper the safety position is one that is quickly becoming stabilized for years to come.


Previous State of the Positions
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Offensive Linemen
Defensive Ends
Defensive Tackles
Linebackers
Cornerbacks



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