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August 22, 2013
Wolfpacker roundtable: Breakout offensive player
We talked Wednesday about who would be a potential breakout player on defense. Now it's time to turn our attention to the other side of the ball.
Who will be the breakout player on offense?
I's tough to predict who would break out on offense because you have so many variables and question marks. Fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Mitchell seems like an ideal fit for the offense, but he also has not nailed down a starting job yet. We know redshirt junior Pete Thomas can throw it, but like Mitchell he is still battling for the position.
A freshman running back or receiver is tempting, but then again, they are freshmen. Tha's why I am going with what I would say is the safest pick in the bunch: fifth-year senior receiver Rashard Smith.
Smith is a bit of a known commodity. He had a good year returning punts last fall and is in his first full season at receiver flashed natural abilities. He built off that and seemed to immediately gel with the new offense, leading all receivers in the spring game with eight catches for 84 yards.
Head coach Dave Doeren seems to have a comfort and confidence level when he talks about Smith that does not apply to many other players. So I think Smith is in line for a breakout campaign.
Freshman running back Matt Dayes will get his chance this fall, and then it is up to him with what he does with it. The 5-foot-9, 213-pounder is 23 pounds heavier than his listed high school weight.
The Rivals.com three-star prospect rushed for 1,864 yards on 237 carries and 31 touchdowns his senior year at Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay High. He rushed for over 150 yards in ever game, and had 174 yards and five touchdowns on 22 rushing attempts in the Florida 8A championship game.
NC State has had freshmen running backs such as Shadrach Thornton and Mustafa Greene break out during their first season, so history is on Dayes' side.
I nearly went with Mitchell here, but I think people have high expectations of him in his lone year of eligibility at NC State. Instead, I'll go with Smith, who I think may catch some people off-guard with how productive he is. The former two-way player spent last year as a fulltime wide out for the first time ever in his career and finished with 19 catches for 315 yards and five scores.
Smith's average of 16.6 yards a catch is impressive, as is his ratio of a touchdown every 3.8 catches. He's taken a big leadership role on the offense and, if he can keep up those averages while receiving more chances, I expect him to be one of the biggest breakout players in the entire ACC. The projected starter at the 'Z' wide receiver spot will also continue his role as the team's punt returner (he averaged 9.3 yards per attempt last year and returned a punt for a score against The Citadel) and could add kick returning duties this season.
Now it's your turn. Go on over to The Wolves' Den message board and participate in the poll asking the same question:
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