After starting the 2017 on the hot seat, it looks like the tides are turning for head coach Dave Doeren. NC State ended the 2017 season with a 9-4 record. This was something that the Wolfpack hadn’t done since the 2010 season, in the middle of the Tom O’Brien era. However, the Wolfpack offense has lost some of it’s elite playmakers. RB Nyheim Hines was a big part of the Wolfpack offense last year, but is now an Indianapolis Colt. Hines rushed for 1,112 yards in his final campaign and 12 TDs. Another weapon that will be missed is do-it-all playmaker Jalen Samuels. Samuels was top 3 in rushing yards and receiving yards, and seemed to make a play anytime the Wolfpack needed it. And you can’t forget the entire defensive line that went to the NFL as well.
Although the Wolfpack may have lost some big weapons from last season, the NC State faithful are expecting anything but a dropoff. Doeren has found his man in QB Ryan Finley at the helm of his offense. Finley has all the makings of an NFL QB and this offense will do their best to make sure he feels comfortable. It is an exciting time to be a Wolfpack fan.
Offensive coordinator Elijah Drinkwitz has to be ecstatic about the team that is returning for the 2018 season. As stated above, Ryan Finley will be returning for his senior campaign. Finley could easily be on an NFL roster right now, but he chose to stay for another season. That can only mean that he believes that he could increase his stock by playing for one more season. Finley threw for 3,518 yards in the 2017 season and 17 touchdowns. It has to be scary for opposing defenses that Finley thinks he can do even better.
Although Nyheim Hines was a superstar for the Wolfpack, Reggie Gallaspy should be able to fill the gap at RB. However, they have completely different running styles. Hines was more of a scatback whereas Gallaspy is more of a human bulldozer. The fact that Gallaspy is a power back might actually make Ryan Finley even better. Hines may have been a good blocker, but standing at 5’11” and 236 pounds Gallaspy has the potential to be much better. Also, look out for freshman Ricky Person who ended up being one of the hottest names in recruiting circles by the end of the 2018 recruiting cycle. Person could end up being the real deal by the end of his collegiate career.
The Wolfpack return 3 starters from the offensive line: seniors LT Tyler Jones, LG Terronne Prescod, and C Garrett Bradbury. It looks like the left side of the line will be able to create some serious holes for their stable of RBs. Josh Fedd-Jackson will fill the RG position and Justin Witt at RT. Fortunately for the Wolfpack, it looks like the O-line will be a strong point for them this year.
Finley to Harmon
NC State fans can expect to hear that a lot this year. Ryan Finley and Kelvin Harmon could possibly be the best QB/WR combo in the ACC. Last year Harmon had 1017 receiving yards on 69 catches. He only had 4 TDs but that number will most likely increase in 2018. Senior WR Stephen Louis and junior Jakobi Meyers will be alongside Harmon. Meyers lead the team with 5 receiving TD’s in 2017. This will certainly be a fun passing attack to watch.
The Wolfpack will be looking to replace their entire front 7 this upcoming year, including ACC Defensive Player of the Year Bradley Chubb. Luckily for Dave Doeren, senior DE Darian Roseboro will be the leader of this defensive front. Roseboro has been extremely productive his college career, but has been overshadowed by top-notch talent. DTs Shug Frazier and Eurdraus Bryant will be filling the middle while James Smith-Williams will be at the other end position. Freshman Alim McNeil will most likely get some reps, but will be a big time player for the Pack in the future.
Germaine Pratt is a hard hitting linebacker that will be the headliner of the linebacker group. Pratt is a senior who was 4th on the team in tackles last year with 69 total. Freshman Payton Wilson was injured during spring ball, but with him in the fold the ‘backer position will be in good hands for years to come.
CB Nick McCloud and SS Jarius Morehead will be the leaders of the secondary. They combined for over 10 pass breakups last season. Tennessee transfer Stephen Griffin will also fill one of the CB spots on defense. It looks like he will be an immediate contributor to this defense.
The Wolfpack may have lost a lot of talent to the NFL, but this team will be very competitive this year. The only questions is – competitive enough to beat Clemson and FSU? Although FSU will be looking for revenge as they return to Raleigh this year, I predict that State will get the best of them. On the other hand Clemson will be much tougher. The Wolfpack will have to travel in to Death Valley this year, and a win would be very surprising. Look for Ryan Finley to put together a wonderful year and continue the tradition of NC State QBs to the NFL. Wolfpack fans have to be ecstatic about this upcoming football season.