Recent success makes it easier for top recruits to say ‘yes’ to NC State
Last week my Tri-Partisan column focused on Dave Doeren’s first full recruiting class, the 2014 haul, which produced 11 All-ACC players, five All-Americans and two Wolfpack legends in Nagurski winner Bradley Chubb and Rimington winner Garrett Bradbury.
Clearly that class laid the foundation for Doeren’s program and played a role in the Wolfpack’s recent success. NC State has won nine games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1991-1992 when Dick Sheridan had the Wolfpack regularly in the Top 25.
Consequently, Doeren and his staff have been able to translate all those wins into improved results on the recruiting trail.
That comes with an asterisk, obviously, because while we are talking about recruiting a higher-caliber prospect that doesn’t always mean those players will be better. For instance, consider those 11 All-ACC players from the 2014 class. None were four-star recruits per 247′s final rankings. Still, the goal is to land four- and five-star prospects, because historically those players have succeeded at a higher rate than two- and three-star recruits.
Winning has opened the door for NC State to target and ink those types of players, and it all started with the 2018 recruiting class. Fresh off last year’s nine-win season, NC State signed seven recruits rated a four-star prospect by either Rivals, ESPN or 247. That doesn’t include kicker Chris Dunn, one of the top kickers in the class who had an All-ACC true freshman campaign.
Alim McNeill, Ricky Person and Cary Angeline were major contributors in 2018, and De’Von Graves made his mark on special teams. State was able to redshirt Payton Wilson, Devin Leary and Taiyon Palmer, and all three are expected to be in the rotation in 2019 with Leary competing for the starting job at quarterback.
Doeren’s staff followed up that outstanding haul with arguably a better class in 2019. As I write this article, these recruits aren’t officially in the fold, but NC State is slated to ink 20 commitments in this class. Eight of those prospects are rated four-stars by at least one of the three major recruiting services.
That is 15 four-star prospects over a two-year period. I’ve been covering NC State recruiting for nearly two decades, and I don’t recall the Wolfpack ever landing 15 four-star recruits over a two-year period.
Where NC State has really loaded up is on the defensive side of the football. Riding the success of last year’s four drafted defensive linemen, NC State has essentially recruited a full starting lineup of four-star prospects over the last two years.
In 2018 the Wolfpack inked Alim McNeill, a four-star defensive tackle, and this year added three more four-star defensive linemen: Savion Jackson, Joshua Harris and C.J. Clark.
Orange (NC) four-star linebacker Payton Wilson, arguably the top defensive player in the state in 2018, signed with the Wolfpack, and 2019 linebacker commitments Jaylon Scott and Drake Thomas were four-star recruits at various points of the recruiting process.
State has landed four four-star prospects in the secondary with defensive backs De’Von Graves and Taiyon Palmer in the 2018 class joining 2019 additions Khalid Martin and Shyheim Battle.
Doeren and company have put an emphasis on not only recruiting in-state – but also following through and actually landing the top players in the state. Of those 15 four-star prospects, nine are from North Carolina.
Few had NC State being really good in 2018 after losing eight defensive starters and All-ACC offensive standouts like Jaylen Samuels, Nyheim Hines, Will Richardson, and Tony Adams last season. However the team followed up 2017 with more regular season wins in 2018.
Doeren has proven that he and his staff can develop talent, and what should make Wolfpack fans happy is that the recent gridiron success is providing him potentially better ingredients to work with which could propel the program to another level going forward.