Thursday, September 2, 2010

Strong crop of freshmen encourages O'Brien

N.C. State lists 18 signees in its media guide, which is not a big recruiting class. But already, Tom O’Brien is predicting a major impact from his fourth group of recruits.

The impact was evident on the depth chart released this week. Five true freshmen are listed as second-teamers, a high number for a college football program. What has impressed O’Brien is the overall quality of the class.

“If you hit 50 percent you are doing pretty good,” he said on his radio show Monday. “We may have hit 100 percent in this class.”

That's an important development for O'Brien, whose Wolfpack clubs have lacked great depth and thus haven't overcome a series of injuries. Also, if O'Brien has a poor year, he needs solid evidence that better days are ahead, and a strong recruiting class honed within his system gives him an argument that he and his staff can turn the Pack around.

Mustafa Greene of Irmo, S.C., is listed as the No. 2 tailback, and O’Brien said Greene has showed as much breakaway potential as any back in camp. Robert Crisp, who played his senior year at Athens Drive, is the No. 2 left tackle. Crisp, 6 feet 7 and 312 pounds, is the one about whom O’Brien said,” We think he’s got a chance to be an All-Pro left tackle some day and he looks like he has those skills.”

The secondary includes three true freshmen as backups – corner David Amerson of Greensboro Dudley,  safety D.J. Green of Macon, Ga., and safety Dontae Johnson of Pennington, N.J. O’Brien’s confidence in his secondary was a key reason he moved Dean Haynes from defensive back to tailback, since camp showed him he had starters – and backups – who could do the job.

By comparison, State signed five players in 2009 who are now on the two-deep. Of the 2008 recruits, 10 are on the two-deep, eight of whom were signed and two who walked on. But you’d expect those numbers to be high, since 2008 recruits are now redshirt sophomores or true juniors, and players tend to begin to contribute by their third season.

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