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August 6, 2013
NC State's top 50 opponents, Nos. 50-26
Choosing the top 50 of anything is always a difficult task and picking the best 50 players from NC State's 2013 schedule is no different. My methodology was simple — based on previous production and expected production this fall, I ranked the players in terms of if there was a hypothetical draft before the 2013 season, the No. 1 player on this list would be the No. 1 overall player on my board, and so on.
Although some players on the list are still developing youngsters, like redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston of Florida State, I based my rankings on what I think they will do this upcoming season. Today, we start with players No. 50-26 and make sure to check back at 8 p.m. for the second part of the list.
50. IK Enemkpali, DE, Louisiana Tech
2012 stats: 32 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 1 FF
The fifth-year from Texas was a first-team All-WAC selection last year and the team's Defensive Player of the Year after he notched six sacks. Enemkpali has logged at least six tackles for loss every campaign since he redshirted in 2009. He'll be one of the top Conference USA defenders this year.
49. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
2012 stats: 130 rushes-599 yards, 4 TD; 4 receptions-34 yards; Totaled 633 all-purpose yards in nine games played
The 6-foot, 227-pound senior has totaled 1,577 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns during his career, but could be in line for the biggest season yet if he can stay healthy — he was limited to nine games last year. In 34 games, Williams has averaged 4.5 yards per carry and he has totaled at least 461 yards on the ground in each of his collegiate campaigns.
48. Spencer Shuey, LB, Clemson
2012 stats: 93 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, 2 QBP in 7 starts, 13 games
The fifth-year senior has been one of the team's top special teams players, but emerged in the second half of last year as a contributor at linebacker. In the last seven games — all of which he started — he totaled 69 tackles, including five for loss. Expect the 6-2, 230-pounder to be even more productive this year.
47. Jake Olson, OT, Central Michigan
2012 stats: Started two games before season-ending injury
The hulking 6-8, 305-pounder should've formed one of the best tackle tandems in the land with No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Eric Fisher last year, but Olson was lost for the year after two starts. Injuries have limited him to 14 games over the past three years, but the potential to be great is there — he started 12 games at left tackle as a freshman in 2009 en route to Freshman All-America honors.
46. Marquis Spruill, LB, Syracuse
2012 stats: 64 tackles, 9 TFL, 2 sacks
The 6-foot-1, 224-pound senior played middle linebacker in 2011 en route to All-Big East second-team honors, then switched to the outside, where he continued to thrive. He ranked 10th in the league with nine tackles for loss and has 26.5 in his career.
45. Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
2012 stats: 77 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 PBU, 2 QBP, 1 INT, 1 FF in seven starts, 13 games played (459 snaps)
Coming out of high school, Anthony was ranked as a five-star prospect that recruitniks probably remember well from the class of 2011. While the true junior has enjoyed a respectable start to his career, he hasn't lived up to the considerable hype yet. However, he has still logged 109 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles in 26 games and 10 starts during his career.
44. Steele Divitto, LB, Boston College
2012 stats: 92 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 6 PBU, 4 FR, 2 FF
The senior will be a part of a good-to-great linebacking corps in Chestnut Hill this fall. He has started each of the past 24 games for the Eagles and averaged over seven tackles per game last fall. Divitto has 184 career stops, 11 passes defended, six fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception.
43. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
2012 honors: All-ACC honorable mention (coaches); started 11 of 12 games at right tackle
The preseason All-ACC selection is looking to cap his career in style and follow the long line of bookend Cavalier protectors to the NFL that includes the likes of D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Eugene Monroe, Branden Albert and Oday Aboushi.
42. Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Boston College
2012 stats: 85 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 PBU in 9 games
The senior missed three games with injury, but still put up big numbers en route to All-ACC honorable mention honors. Pierre-Louis needs to stay healthy in his final year of eligibility — he hasn't played in every game since his true freshman year, but that hasn't prevented him from racking up 252 career stops.
41. Justin Jackson, LB, Wake Forest
2012 stats: 81 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 PBU, 4 QBH, 1 FR, 1 blocked kick
The fifth-year senior from Rockingham, N.C., started all 12 games last year and led the team in tackles, while he tied for the lead with four sacks. Over the past two years, he has logged 15 tackles for loss and 108.5 total stops.
40. Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State
2012 stats: 64 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FF
After two seasons at middle linebacker, where he performed admirably but never consistently started, Smith is moving to the weakside. Despite playing as a back-up in 2012, Smith posted 64 stops, which ranked third on the team, and set a career high with 8.5 tackles for loss. Smith should be even more productive with a starting role this year.
39. Tim Scott, CB, North Carolina
2012 stats: 48 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 4 INT, 9 PBU, 1 defensive TD
Scott tied for the team lead with four picks and paced the squad with nine pass breakups last season en route to honorable mention All-ACC distinctions. The true junior is an experienced veteran of 20 starts and he has played in every contest since he arrived on campus.
38. Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
2012 stats: 18 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 PBU, 8 QBP, 1 FF in just 288 plays (13 games played)
The redshirt junior emerged as one of the ACC's top pass rushers last year despite a limited number of snaps. He totaled just 20 tackles, but that included eight sacks, which was the fourth-most in the ACC for 2012. Beasley was the only freshman or sophomore to rank among the league's top 10 sackers. He'll get more chances this year, but will skyrocket up the list if he can keep the pace of one sack every 36 plays.
37. Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
2012 stats: 58 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 3 INT, 15 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 2 FF
The redshirt junior is coming off of a campaign where he was named All-ACC honorable mention by the league coaches. He ranked second in the conference with 18 passes defended, which fell just one behind the school record set in 2011 by Merrill "Bud" Noel, a guy who just missed making the cut on this list after a down year last fall. Johnson seemingly came out of nowhere because he redshirted in 2011.
36. Derrell Johnson, LB, East Carolina
2012 stats: 62 tackles, 11 TFL, 7 sacks, 8 QBH, 2 FR
The stout outside linebacker is a four-year starter who started as a true freshman defensive end but has rapidly improved at linebacker en route to All-Conference USA second-team laurels last year. He finished with 62 tackles, which ranked third on the team, in addition to leading the squad with seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and eight quarterback hurries.
35. Titus Davis, WR, Central Michigan
2012 stats: 43 receptions-860 yards, 8 TD
The 6-2 junior was an All-MAC third-teamer as a rookie and moved up to the second team last season. He was also named the CMU Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 and his average of 20 yards per catch was the best in the nation among receivers with 40 or more receptions.
34. Tre Boston, S, North Carolina
2012 stats: 86 tackles, 1 TFL, 4 INT, 6 PBU, 1 defensive TD
The talented defensive back earned honorable mention All-ACC honors last season after he led his team with 86 tackles and shared the lead with four interceptions. Boston has settled in at safety after starting his career as a cornerback and his eight career picks is the highest total for any returning Heels' defender.
33. Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina
2012 stats: 273-of-413 passing (66.1%) for 3,116 yards, 23 TD, 10 INT; 143.0 rating; 8 rushing TD
The junior briefly made an appearance in one game as a wide receiver in 2011, but make no mistake about it, he's a quarterback and a darn good one at that. He ranked 32nd nationally with 3,116 passing yards despite not taking over as the starter until the third game of the year. With his eight rushing scores, he accounted for 31 of the team's 45 touchdowns.
32. A.J. Blue, RB, North Carolina
2012 stats: 82 rushes-433 yards, 9 TD; 9 receptions-80 yards, 1 TD; Totaled 513 all-purpose yards and 10 TD
The 6-2, 215-pound former quarterback is entering his final year of eligibility and could be the Heels' go-to back. He played in every game last year with four starts and responded with an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Whether he starts or not, he'll play a major role in the UNC backfield.
31. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2012 stats: None
The 6-4, 225-pounder was the nation's top dual-threat quarterback recruit in the class of 2012, but redshirted last year while EJ Manuel played his way into the first round of the NFL Draft. He won't see many defenses better than the unit he practiced against every day last year while on the scout team and he has already dealt with the spotlight of playing college baseball for one of the nation's best squads. The spotlight of being the FSU quarterback is different, but Winston looked good in the spring game, where he went 12-of-15 for 205 yards and two scores. Some are saying he can be this year's version of Johnny Football.
30. Deon Long, WR, Maryland
2012 stats at Iowa Western Community College: 100 receptions-1,625 yards, 25 TD
The redshirt junior is at his fourth school in as many years, but will pair with Stefon Diggs to give the Terps a potentially dangerous aerial attack, provided they are able to keep a quarterback upright this year. Long, who signed with West Virginia out of high school then played at New Mexico under Terps' offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, where he led the Lobos with 47 receptions, 809 receiving yards and four touchdowns en route to second-team all-conference honors. Last year, he set an NJCAA record with 100 receptions at National Champion Iowa Western. The five-star recruit totaled 1,625 receiving yards and 25 scores in 2012.
29. Kevin Parks, RB, Virginia
2012 stats: 160 rushes-734 yards, 5 TD; 24 receptions-189 yards; Totaled 923 all-purpose yards in just two starts, 12 games
Kevin Parks has shared time in the Cavaliers' backfield for the past two years, but the show is all his now after the graduation of Perry Jones and transfer of Clifton Richardson. Parks has totaled 1,443 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground in his career.
28. Prince-Tyson Gulley, RB, Syracuse
2012 stats: 158 rushes-830 yards, 9 TD; 33 receptions-282 yards, 2 TD; Totaled 1,112 all-purpose yards, 11 TD
The 5-9, 181-pounder sat out this spring with an injury, but is expected to slide right back into his role as the No. 2 back behind 1,000-yard rusher Jerome Smith. Gulley started three times, ranked eighth in the Big East with an average of 63.8 yards per contest and finished fifth in the league with 11 scores. The senior was the MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl after he rushed for a career-best 213 yards and two scores, while he added five receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown.
27. Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
2012 stats: 111 rushes-660 yards, 8 TD; 10 receptions-86 yards; Totaled 746 all-purpose yards
The true junior may not have the size of his teammate James Wilder, but he was nearly as productive rushing for 660 yards and eight scores last year. Freeman has averaged 5.4 yards per tote in his career, and has totaled 1,239 yards and 16 scores on the ground.
26. Nikita Whitlock, NG, Wake Forest
2012 stats: 51 tackles,, 5.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 QBH in 10 games played
The Wake Forest nose guard is short and stout, but makes a big impact. He was a second-team All-ACC pick as a sophomore in 2011, and repeated the effort last year despite playing in 10 games with eight starts. The Deacons will be greatly aided if Whitlock gets back to 2011-type production when he notched 14 tackles for loss.
Just Missed (in no particular order): East Carolina LB Jeremy Grove, Virginia CB Demetrious Nicholson, Clemson RB Roderick McDowell, Wake Forest S A.J. Marshall, Florida State TE Nick O'Leary, North Carolina C Russell Bodine, Wake Forest QB Tanner Price, East Carolina OT Adhem Elsawi, East Carolina CB Adonis Armstrong, Central Michigan LB Justin Cherocci, Central Michigan LB Shamari Benton
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