Monday, September 27, 2010

Final Amato recruits playing key role in N.C. State's run

So how good was Tom O’Brien’s first recruiting class? In hindsight, pretty strong – especially considering that Chuck Amato’s future was in question much of that 2006 season, and O’Brien came to N.C. State late and had to scramble for players.

What’s interesting, when you look back, is that Amato’s final recruits were critical to State’s current success. So despite what you think of Amato and his ways, he actually found some real talent for the red and white. And O’Brien and his staff also managed to find players who would be essential to this 4-0 start.

O’Brien signed 22 players in February of 2007 for his first class. Of those, 12 had committed to Amato’s staff and 10 committed after O’Brien arrived in Raleigh, according to charts on PackPride.com.
Here’s how those two groups have played out:

Amato commitments:

Current starters:  QB Russell Wilson, TE George Bryan, DE J.R. Sweezy, Safety Justin Byers.

Total number remaining in program: Seven of 12

O’Brien commitments:

Current starters: LB Audie Cole, LT Jake Vermiglio, DE Jeff Rieskamp, P Jeff Ruiz.

Total number remaining in program: Seven of 10.

A new coaching staff can often look for a different type of player than the previous staff, so players who committed to one group of coaches don’t always fare well with the new regime. Given that, State has received fare production out of Amato’s final group. Seven of 12 are still in the program, a reasonable number. Bryan is an All-ACC level players, and of course N.C. State wouldn’t be where it is without Wilson.

Add to that the fact that O’Brien’s staff found some quality players as well and what you have is the foundation of this year’s winning team.

By the way, that class had only one four-star recruit, receiver Jay Smith of Norfolk, Va., who committed to Amato. And Smith is not on the two-deep for Saturday’s showdown with Virginia Tech. Bryan was a three-star recruit and Wilson, Cole, Vermiglio, Rieskamp, Sweezy and Byers were all two-star recruits.

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