Sophomore quarterback Manny Stocker could see the first clear signs of change in NC State's football program during the offseason workouts under new strength and conditioning coordinator Jason Veltkamp.
"It was a lot more competitive than I thought," Stocker noted. "They enthused our players. There was a lot of competition, and everybody loved it. It just brings the morale of the team up."
The competition was probably also good for Stocker personally because he is likely to be at the center of the most visible position battle on the roster.
Who will be NCSU's signal caller is a question that first-year head coach Dave Doeren is likely to receive a lot before he announces who indeed will be the Wolfpack's starting quarterback.
The two primary contenders appear to be redshirt junior Pete Thomas, who sat out last season after transferring in from Colorado State, and Stocker.
Thomas was a two-year starter for the Rams and threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns in 21 games. Thomas' experience is an advantage, but Stocker has the athleticism to be a dual-threat quarterback that Doeren tends to covet.
Stocker noted after the first spring practice however that the coaches are not tipping their hands yet.
"All the quarterbacks are getting reps," Stocker said. "We just rotate in whenever. We are all just cycling in. It's spring ball. I guess this is how it's going to work for the rest of spring practices."
And before the competition can begin in earnest, Stocker and the rest of the quarterbacks are trying to get a good feel for what the new practice routines will be like.
"It's a lot different than last year," Stocker noted. "The pace is a lot faster.
"We barely huddle. We probably huddle 5-10 times. Last year we huddled after every play. Definitely the pace is a lot different than I expected and it went a lot faster than last year."
Another adjustment has been working while Doeren roams from position to position and has his presence be felt.
"You don't want to mess up in front of him," Stocker said before flashing a smile. "It's nice to know the coach is watching."
This time last year Stocker probably would have been getting ready for his senior year prom at Coatesville (Pa.) Area High. He elected however to graduate from school early and was at State for spring practices.
After offseason quarterback attrition, Stocker suddenly found himself thrust into the backup job to Mike Glennon. Now as Stocker enters his second spring practice he is competing for a potential starting job when most quarterbacks in his class are about to go through their first spring drills after redshirting the previous fall.
Stocker said that his main focus is simple: working on all aspects of his game.
"It's spring ball, so we got a long way to go," he said. "I'm just trying to do my best to get to where I need to be.
"It is definitely exciting. I know I am competing against a great quarterback. He pushes me, and hopefully I am pushing him. Whoever gets this job will be a great quarterback for NC State."