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January 21, 2011

State of the position: Offensive linemen

With the 2010 season behind NC State, it's only natural to take a look back at the year and analyze the roster. The Wolfpacker does just that, taking a position-by-position look at the squad, and figuring out what went right and wrong in 2010, and how the future shapes up. We continue with the offensive line position.


Season Breakdown


Preseason spin
There were a lot of questions about the offensive line. Senior Jake Vermiglio was a mainstay at left tackle. The rest of the line was talented, but also very young. Redshirt sophomores Andrew Wallace and Zach Allen had the inside track at the guard positions while sophomore center Camden Wentz was the favorite to take over for the departed Ted Larsen, who was playing on Sundays this fall for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The biggest question on the offensive line was could redshirt sophomore R.J. Mattes, a promising rookie starter in 2009, recover from ACL surgery in time to make an impact. If so, he could be the answer at right tackle. If not, then redshirt freshman Sam Jones, junior college transfer Mikel Overgaard and five-star recruit Robert Crisp were in line to battle for the spot.

Reality
Stricly by the numbers, it was not a great season for the offensive line. The Pack averaged just 3.5 yards per rush, 11th in the ACC and ahead of only Duke's 3.4 average. State also gave up a league-high 39 sacks.

Some of that though is on the shoulders of young running backs and the large number of pass plays NC State called this year. NC State's 545 pass attempts were 56 more than Duke who had the second most in the ACC.

The Pack's line struggled at times against Central Florida and Clemson in particular, and defensive linemen from UNC and West Virginia had their moments as well, but overall the line held up well. Mattes came by after two games to solidify the right tackle spot after Overgaard started the first two contests. The other positive development was redshirt freshman Duran Christophe's development.


Analyzing Recruiting Trend


The Supposed Foundation
By the foundation, we mean high school players that were signed in the Classes of 2006, 2007 and 2008 that have been in the program for at least three years. We did not include junior college recruits or major college transfers in this list.

Gary Gregory, Class of 2006
Wayne Crawford, Class of 2007
Mike Golder, Class of 2007
Henry Lawson, Class of 2007
Desmond Roberts, Class of 2007
Jake Vermiglio, Class of 2007
Justin Whaley, Class of 2007
Zach Allen, Class of 2008
Ahmad Jaradat, Class of 2008
R.J. Mattes, Class of 2008
Andrew Wallace, Class of 2008

Analysis: The 2008 class has solidified the offensive line after a couple of off years recruiting at the position. Ironically the 2008 class was the first full recruiting class for Tom O'Brien's staff, renowned for their abilities to evaluate offensive linemen.

The 2007 class never materialized. Golder (injury) and Whaley (academics) never played a down for the Pack. Roberts would be dismissed from the team, and Lawson has been a career reserve. Only Vermiglio, the lone O'Brien recruit among that group, developed into a starter.

Jaradat left the 2008 class after one semester due to homesickness, but the other three linemen - Alllen, Mattes and Wallace - have proven to be keepers.

The Future?
The future are high school players that signed in 2009 and 2010 as well as non-binding verbal commitments from the 2011 class.

Duran Christophe, Class of 2009
Denzelle Good, Class of 2009
Sam Jones, Class of 2009
Camden Wentz, Class of 2009
Torian Box Class of 2010
Tyson Chandler, Class of 2010
Robert Crisp, Class of 2010
Andy Jomantas, Class of 2010
Andy Barr, Class of 2011
Joseph Thuney, Class of 2011

Analysis: The 2009 class already looks good despite the fact that Good was dismissed from the squad prior to the start of the season. Wentz is already starting, and Christophe impressed this year. Jones also has a promising future.

Crisp played snaps this past year as a true freshman and may be the leading candidate to replace Vermiglio and start at left tackle. Box, Chandler and Jomantas all redshirted, while Barr and Thuney are a pair of three-star recruits who will likely redshirt next fall.


State Of The Position


The 2011 season could be the year where the offensive line turns the corner under O'Brien and starts becoming a dominant line year-in and year-out like the units that O'Brien regularly rolled out at Boston College. The present and future both look promising.


Previous State of the Positions
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends



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