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October 6, 2011
NC State coach Tom O'Brien said he won't hesitate in playing LSU transfer Cameron Fordham against Central Michigan on Saturday.
Fordham missed the first four games of the season, but won his appeal to play this season last Friday. He was dressed and could have played last Saturday against Georgia Tech, but the coaches elected to ease him into the rotation at center or possibly guard.
The 6-foot-3, 281-pound Fordham is listed on the second string at center for this week's depth chart.
"It was just an appeal to the NCAA and LSU totally supported it," O'Brien said. "I think that helped out. It was a long process, but it worked."
Fordham signed with LSU in 2010 and redshirted his first season, but he elected to transfer to NC State last August. Rivals.com ranked the Duluth, Ga., native a three-star prospect and No. 37 overall tight end in the country. He originally picked LSU over Clemson and Central Florida.
Fordham's father, Jeff, played for LSU when NC State defensive coordinator Mike Archer was an assistant coach for the Tigers.
"Right now, we are practicing with him and he could be in the game Saturday," O'Brien said. "We dressed him out last Saturday when we found out he was eligible. He's slowly learning the system. We got him at center because he can get the ball up and move."
NC State's depth on the interior took a hit when redshirt freshman Torian Box departed the program during fall camp. Fordham will help fill that void.
"We now have that body back [inside]," said O'Brien, who celebrated his birthday Wednesday.
Guarding against the big play: Central Michigan's offense had been languishing through the first four games, scoring just 55 points (34 against FBS opponents). The Chippewas exploded for five touchdowns that went over 36 yards en route to a 48-41 victory over Northern Illinois last Saturday.
"We have to contain the big play," O'Brien said. "When you score as many points as they did last week, and four were 46-yard touchdown passes or longer, you have to be very alert to what's going on for the offensive side of the football."
Senior running back Paris Cotton was part of three of the long touchdowns, and all came during the second half. He caught a 43-yard touchdown pass, rushed for a 36-yarder and then caught a 41-yard score.
The 5-9, 179-pound Cotton finished with 110 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown and caught four passes for 115 yards and two scores. Cotton showed a knack for hiding behind his tall offensive line that includes a pair of 6-8 tackles, and guards that are listed at 6-5 and 6-6.
"He gets lost in traffic a lot," O'Brien said. "That's certainly a concern but it is to his advantage. He does a good job and has a good quick jump-start move that allows him to get up there behind those guys, and then squirt through. We have to make sure we have contain and keep him surrounded."
Cotton started for CMU last year, but fell to third string to start the season. Cotton rushed for 596 yards on 142 carries and six touchdowns, and caught 25 passes for 245 last year.
Cotton didn't play against either Kentucky or Michigan State, but sophomore starter Zurlon Tipton suffered a season-ending injury after the second game.
Cotton's ability to take screen passes for long gains also got the attention of the Wolfpack defense.
"We always spend time on screen passes, but that is one of their big weapons," O'Brien said. "They've been good on screen passes. It's something where if they are good at it, we better be practicing against it."
Update on Taylor Gentry: NC State won't be releasing an injury report today, since it's a non-conference game against Central Michigan. However, O'Brien did give an update on starting fullback Taylor Gentry, who injured his ankle against Georgia Tech last week.
"Gentry won't play, so he's the one," said O'Brien.
Sophomore fullback Tyler Purvis will likely fill the void. He caught four passes for 33 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Yellow Jackets.
Redshirt freshman Logan Winkles is another option at fullback.
N.C. State NEWS