There are two televised spring scrimmages this Saturday in the ACC. North Carolina State will be televised on the ACC Extra Network at 1 pm EST, and Wake Forest plays at 3 pm EST but the TV network is still TBA (likely will be somewhere on the WatchESPN platform). Here are a few things that I’ve learned thus far as well as some things that I will be looking for.
The Wolfpack return a ton of skill talent but also lose two dynamic players at the skill spots and two offensive linemen that will be drafted later this month. Ryan Finley returns at QB, and that is good news for State fans. Finley threw for more than 3,500 yards last season and had a 17/6 TD/INT ratio. The TD number was rather disappointing, and that is the main reason why he finished as the CFF QB26 despite ranking 19th in gross passing yards in 2017. There is no competition for his job this spring, but there will be added interest in regards to the depth behind him after Jalan McClendon’s recent transfer to Baylor. Matt McKay is a rFR that spent most of last season playing on the scout team. At 6’3” and 203 pounds, he was praised for his ability to emulate Lamar Jackson and Kelly Bryant due to his dual-threat ability. McKay is one of the youngest players in his recruiting class. He turned 18-years-old in October of his freshman season (1 month older than Bryan Edwards) and is still refining his passing. His OC had this to say about him recently to the News & Observer, “Consistency and confidence are the two things Drinkwitz wants McKay to get out of this spring. “He has been a solid performer for us, but you can’t be inconsistent,” Drinkwitz said. “You can’t have two good days and a bad day. You can’t have three good games and then a bad game. You’ve got to be the same guy every day.” McKay is one snap away from being the QB1 so his development this spring and in this scrimmage, in particular, will be extremely important. NC State recruited another exciting young QB from New Jersey, Devin Leary. Leary is an undersized gunslinger that is one of the better pure passers in his recruiting class. He doesn’t arrive until Summer, but he and McKay will be competing for QB2 this year and QB1 next season.
The good news for the quarterbacks is that the WR room is one of the most underrated in the country. Kelvin Harmon, Stephen Louis, and Jakobi Myers are the three best-known quantities and they all present matchup problems for defenses. Harmon has the prototypical NFL WR1 build, is one of the top WRs in the country, and is coming off of a breakout season in which he racked up more than 1,000 receiving yards. He will be a high-value target both in CFF and Devy formats. You can find out more about him here. Stephen Louis was the least productive of this trio last season, but his incredible work ethic has trickled down to the rest of the WRs who are regularly seen working late after practice ends. This comes as no surprise when you learn about his upbringing. The Haitian-born Louis is the youngest of six boys and is also the second-generation-fruit of the 20 kids that his grandfather fathered! Louis learned a lot about hard work, and he’s a talented player that played very early in his career, but injuries and a crowded depth chart have limited his production. Make no mistake, he’s a talented WR that will get a look in the NFL. Jakobi Meyers was one of the most impressive players in the ACC last season. The former QB is just learning to play the position, but he has already shown that his upside is tremendous. His athleticism is fantastic, and he presents a major challenge when running after the catch. Here is a great example of that as he dead-legs Derwin James and leaves nothing but his jock strap between him and his front flip into paydirt. GOT EM!
Ryan Finley pass complete to Jakobi Meyers for 71-yds. Pack back up 10 pic.twitter.com/CXYwK0cfnC
— Pack Pride (@PackPride) September 23, 2017
The 6’2” 203-pound rJR finished last season with the quietest 63-727-5 that I can recall in recent memory. One more year of comparable production and increased consistency on the practice field and I believe that he will be a valuable pro prospect and Devy target. The last receiver that I’ll touch on is Emeka Emezie. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, he’s another 6’3” 200+ guy for the Pack at WR. He has a basketball background and can go up and get the ball while also having the ability to run after the catch. I lied; CJ Riley will be the final WR I’ll mention. 6’4” 204, rSO with the best speed of all the WRs. This is a terrific group.
NC State has been fortunate to have Matt Dayes and Nyheim Hines over the past two seasons. There is now some uncertainty at the position, and ultimately they have a mix of unproven youth and some vets that have limited productivity under their belts. Reggie Gallaspy is the front-runner for RB1. Listed at 5’11” and 236 pounds, he is the ideal back to use in short yardage and get goal line work. In 2017, he had 116-506-7. He did catch 13 balls last year, but I am unsure how much he will provide as a pass catcher. The young players that will likely be vying for time will be rFR Erin Collins and TrFR Ricky Person. Much of the fanbase believes (hopes?) that Person will eventually usurp the RB1 duties from Gallaspy by the middle of the 2018 season. Person had a very prolific high school career and is highly regarded amongst recruiting services. At 6’1 and 212 pounds, he looks like an NFL RB already. At 6’0 and 206 pounds, Erin Collins should be familiar with the playbook after his redshirt season, and he is also a very talented player. Recent history shows that there will be a valuable RB for FF purposes. Gallaspy would get my vote if I had to call it today but I don’t say that with a ton of conviction. The weather conditions are going to be pretty miserable for a spring game across much of the southeast coast of the United States. That likely means we see an emphasis placed on the running games, which is great for this one because there is much to be learned about the RBs.
I have no idea what to expect from NC State at TE. I think many will look to the way that Jaylen Samuels was used and assume they will try to get a TE very involved again. I doubt it. Samuels was a special college player. NC State gave him his own position designation on the depth chart, “JAYLEN.”
NC State is about to send a multitude of talented defenders to the NFL. They were both one of the most experienced and talented groups in college football last season. There will likely be a substantial drop off on defense, but there is still talent, albeit unproven, on this roster. The defensive player that I’ll submit is CB Chris Ingram. He’s a long corner who can cover and managed to crack the rotation last year as a true freshman.