State of the position: Cornerbacks

With the 2009 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 2009, and how the future shapes up. We continue with the cornerback position.
Season Breakdown
Preseason spin
Cornerback was definitely an area of concern, especially after the transfer of projected starter Dominique Ellis to South Carolina State and the preseason ankle injury to the other likely starter DeAndre Morgan. That left State with redshirt freshmen C.J. Wilson and Gary Grant and former walk-on receiver Koyal George as the most experienced options at corner.
The hope was that they could grow up in a hurry, and that Morgan would be able to return to 100 percent sooner rather than later. There was considerable chatter however that the true freshmen, especially Rashard Smith were impressing and could make a quick impact.
There was obviously validity to the concerns. Morgan struggled with his return from injuries and again had issues with the physicality of the position that the defensive coaches demand. Wilson struggled with inconsistency early in the season, and Grant apparently was not ready to make a contribution.
Smith was an early season bright spot, but a knee injury cut his year short. True freshman Jarvis Byrd seemed to be providing a late-year spark, but he would tear his ACL against UNC in the season-finale and will likely be lost for the 2010 season.
Analyzing Recruiting Trend
The Supposed Foundation
By the foundation, we mean high school players that were signed in the Classes of 2005, 2006 and 2007 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.
Levin Neal, Class of 2005
Everett Lewis, Class of 2006
DeAndre Morgan, Class of 2006
Analysis: There was a very minimal foundation for this team to build on at the cornerback spot, and the two players that could have probably been good corners for a Chuck Amato defense - Morgan and Neal - were probably not a good fit for a Tom O'Brien defense which requires sure tackling abilities. Lewis never made it on campus, and promising recruit Dominique Ellis did not qualify in 2007 and instead was part of the 2008 class.
The Future?
The future are high school and prep players that signed in 2008 through 2010.
Akeem Cunningham, Class of 2008
Dominique Ellis, Class of 2008
Gary Grant, Class of 2008
C.J. Wilson, Class of 2008
Jarvis Byrd, Class of 2009
Rashard Smith, Class of 2009
Analysis: The 2008 class has been hit by attrition when Cunningham and Ellis both left before the 2009 season. Wilson though showed considerable improvement last year, and both Byrd and Smith look like keepers, offering hope for the future. Do not be surprised either if highly touted David Amerson in the 2010 class ends up at cornerback, although he was listed as a safety in the recruiting class.
State Of The Position
Byrd and Smith in particular appear to epitomize the type of corners O'Brien wants in his defense. The future looks fairly bright at corner but only if the Pack continue to stock the position in the new few recruiting classes.
Previous State of the Positions
- Quarterbacks
- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Tight Ends
- Offensive Linemen
- Defensvie Ends
- Defensive Tackles
- Linebackers