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Wolfpack duo reunited by Patriots in third round of 2016 NFL draft

For the last two seasons, Jacoby Brissett has lined up alongside Joe Thuney in Carter-Finley Stadium. On Friday night, NC State’s offensive duo went their separate ways when Thuney was selected by the New England Patriots.

That lasted about 40 minutes.

Thuney was taken with the 78th overall pick in the third round at 10:17 p.m. Brissett, projected to go in the sixth round by CBS Sports, was nabbed by the Patriots with the 91st overall pick in the third round at 10:56 p.m.

“No way, that’s awesome!” Thuney told media following the news that Brissett was also picked by the Pats. “Couldn’t be happier for him.”

It couldn’t be a more perfect situation for Thuney. The versatile offensive lineman played any position the NC State coaching staff asked him to during his time in Raleigh. Thuney noted that he “embraced it” when coaches texted him about slotting at a different position each week.

Blessed with great athleticism, Thuney doesn’t quite possess the typical size to play on the outside. Also blessed with high intelligence – he graduated after his junior year at State – Thuney knows his worth. “I think I see myself more as an interior guy, more of a guard or center,” he said.

Thuney also became the first offensive lineman drafted in the first round from NC State since Chris Colmer in 2005. Colmer was taken 91st overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing two seasons in the NFL before being cut in 2007. He passed away on December 28, 2010.

Not only was Thuney the first player from NC State selected in the draft, he was also the first from a North Carolina school. Despite having a second-to-third round projection, Jeremy Cash was not selected in the first three rounds of the draft.

Thirteen picks later, Brissett became the second NC player selected.

Similar to Thuney, Brissett carried a sixth-round projection, but was snatched by the Patriots just before the second night concluded. Brissett joins Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon as NC State quarterbacks currently on an NFL roster.

Brissett transferred from Florida to State, sitting out the 2013 season before winning the starting job in 2014. His first year in Raleigh opened eyes, but his second saw him set career-bests in 2015 with 237 completions and 2,662 passing yards.

“He’s a guy that’s hit or miss for me,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said about Brissett. “He’s got the size and he’s got the arm. But in some of those games that I watched, there’s something missing that bothered me a bit.”

The fit makes sense for both Thuney and Brissett with New England.

Sebastian Vollmer is a free agent after this season and Nate Solder after the 2017 season, making the need for a tackle very real in the near future. As for Brissett, he will have a chance to battle Jimmy Garoppolo for the starting nod in the season opener with Tom Brady suspended for the first four games.

As for the future, Brissett now knows he has at least one lineman he can rely on. According to Pro Football Focus, Thuney allowed just two sacks, one QB hit and four hurries last season. With his versatility and Brissett’s size, the Patriots have two Pack prospects at positions of need in the years to come.

Trubisky officially UNC’s starting quarterback

CHAPEL HILL — For the first time in three seasons, there’s no quarterback controversy in Chapel Hill.

Unlike the last two seasons when he’s waited until the fall to announce his starter, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora officially named Mitch Trubisky the starting quarterback Friday morning.

“I thought Mitch did a good job this spring and didn’t just assume he was going to be the starter. He worked extremely hard and earned it,” Fedora said in a release. “We always want to have competition at every position. Mitch is the QB with the most experience returning, but he worked hard this spring, competed every day and deserves to be the starter.”

The reality of UNC’s situation became pretty apparent after presumed second-stringer Caleb Henderson threw three interceptions in last week’s spring game. Considering Trubisky completed 13-of-22 passes for 148 yards, one touchdown and one interception, it was pretty unlikely he’d be anywhere other than top spot on the depth chart when the season opens against Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game on Sept. 3 in Atlanta.

Despite the lengthy path to the job, Trubisky has been Fedora’s guy all along. Graduating early from Mentor (OH) to enroll at UNC in January 2013 as a part of Fedora’s second recruiting class, Trubisky was handpicked to run the coach’s uptempo offense.

But with Williams’ talent and support from the locker room, Fedora was forced to keep Trubisky in the wings until Williams exhausted his eligibility.

Though this year’s quarterback competition was very much contrived, it’s not the first quarterback controversy Trubisky’s been part of. He and Williams engaged in a very real battle during Trubisky’s redshirt freshman preseason. Fedora refused to tap a starter until Sept. 1, 2014, an ‘or’ appearing between Williams’ and Trubisky’s names on the depth chart until after both quarterbacks played in UNC’s season-opening wallop of Liberty.

Williams, who replaced injured Bryn Renner as the starter midway through the previous season, earned the nod, but Trubisky still appeared in 10 games during his first season.

Trubisky was often inserted for the third offensive series of games during the 2014 season, and he completed 42-of-78 passes for 459 yards.

Last year, Fedora halted the third series rotation, and Trubisky’s
playing time became more irregular. Fedora benched Williams in favor of

Trubisky in the second quarter of an early season game against Delaware,
because he apparently just enjoys creating controversy at the position.

But two days later, Fedora reaffirmed his commitment to Williams and kept Trubisky in a reserve role for the rest of the season. (Williams and the UNC offense shredding through the ACC schedule didn’t hurt matters.)

Trubisky made appearances in nine of 14 games last season, but he became more efficient and completed 40-of-47 passes for 555 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added 101 yards on the ground and scored three rushing touchdowns.

“I learned a lot,” Trubisky said of his time as backup. “I think mostly just patience, being patient for my opportunity and just doing my role to help the team. It’s all about the team, and just executing and doing what I’ve got to do for the team, just being a team player. It’s not about me or my playing time, it’s about the success of the Tar Heels, and that’s what I’m about.”

With Williams exhausting his eligibility, it was in the team’s best interest to hand the keys over to Trubisky.

Though he’s never started a game, by playing in 19 games during the first two seasons of his career, Trubisky is far from a rookie stepping into a new role.

“We don’t feel that he’s a newcomer by any means,” wideout Ryan Switzer said. “Mitch has been one of the leaders since he stepped on campus. That’s just his personality. It’s not any different for us when we step out on the field. Everybody has their full faith and confidence in him and not that we’re trying to put any pressure on him, but we believe that he can get it done. He’s shown that he can so we definitely feel like he’s mentally and physically prepared as well.”

Switzer, who’s also Trubisky’s roommate, says underneath all the humble team-first talk is a confident quarterback who’s ready to take the reins.

“He’s always been a team-first guy,” Switzer said after the spring game. “I think that with that being said, he does believe that he is the best option for us going forward. I feel like he thinks this is long over-due and he’s ready to take the reins of this team.”

UNC football piles on the points in annual spring game

CHAPEL HILL — The North Carolina football team scored a combined 144 points in its annual spring game Saturday afternoon.

That’s not a typo. 144 points. Blue team 74, White team 70.

But in this scenario, 144 points doesn’t mean that the Tar Heels, who went 11-3 last season, made 48 field goals or scored 18 touchdowns and six field goals.

Instead, coach Larry Fedora and his staff replaced the traditional scoring system for a more complicated one used in every practice, one borrowed from the Seattle Seahawks to give both offensive and defensive players a numerical measure of their success.

“Anytime the offense and the defense are going against each other, in any phase in practice, we use that scoring system to create competition,” Fedora said. “Just so they know what they’re doing. It’s not the score that you’re used to but that way, within the practice, your defense has the opportunity to see how they’re performing. It’s not just did we keep them from scoring touchdowns. It’s really not a difficult deal.”

Well actually, that depends on who you ask.

“It didn’t make sense to me,” said senior wide receiver Ryan Switzer, who had two catches for 10 yards Saturday. “I don’t know. I just go out there and run my route and do what’s asked of me. I didn’t pay too much attention to the score today but I know probably confused a lot of people out there, including me.”

The system relies on different point values assigned to different downs. On first and second down, if the offense gains more than four yards, they get a point. If the defense holds them to less than four yards on first or second down, they get a point. If it’s third-and-short and the offense converts, they get one point, but if the defense gets a stop, they get two. But on third-and-long, the offense gets two points for a conversion while the defense gets one for a stop. On third-and-mediums, only a point is up for grabs for either side.

The defense earns three points for creating a turnover while the offense earns three points for a touchdown. Special teams can’t earn any points, meaning that Nick Weiler’s 52-yard field goal Saturday afternoon didn’t put anything up on the scoreboard.

“I looked up at the beginning and was like, ‘ah this is going to confuse everybody,’” said quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 148 yards, one touchdown and one interception. “That’s how we score practice too, so it was nothing new to us. It’s about being efficient on first and second and converting third downs. So it wasn’t confusing to us but I felt bad for the fans because they don’t know how it’s being scored.”

Because so many players, including six starters from last season’s Coastal Division Championship team, missed the spring game with injuries, the offense squared off against defense in front of a crowd around 5,000. With only one side of the ball typically scoring touchdowns, the traditional final score would’ve been a bit lopsided and not give a full picture of the team’s defensive success.

The offense led 41-34 at halftime, but the defense came roaring back in the second half and outscored their counterparts 36-33.

In the second spring under defensive coordinator coordinator Gene Chizik, UNC’s defensive unit showed more understanding of the complex schemes, grabbing four interceptions and making six sacks.

“Last year, we were much more vanilla,” senior cornerback Des Lawrence said. “We were only able to come out here with two calls last year. They just wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing. This year, we were able to put a lot of things in.

“I feel like this year everyone knows where the next man is going to be it allows them to play faster and also allows us not to think and when you’re not able to think and you’re just playing out there on god-given ability, you’re going to be able to make plays that you usually make.”

Sophomore safety Cameron Albright made two interceptions, including two on throws by sophomore quarterback Caleb Henderson.

Lawrence and linebacker Cole Holcomb led with nine and 10 tackles, respectively, while sophomore defensive end Malik Carney tallied two sacks. Lawrence made the play on Trubisky’s lone interception, adding three more points to his team’s tally.

For the defensive players, the point system is a motivational tool since the stakes, at least during practices, are pretty high.

“It’s a lot of trash-talking going on during practice because you get mad because some of the point system, you don’t like it,” Lawrence said. “It’s just some way they have to tally it. But when practice is over, the loser has to carry the winners’ pads. I think that’s a big thing for us that allows the competition to stay up.”

Offensively Saturday afternoon, UNC put together three touchdown drives, including two in the first half on an 18-yard pass from Trubisky to Mack Hollins and a 16-yard run by Khris Francis.

In the second half, sophomore running back Jacob Schmidt finished a 96-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run, part of his big afternoon with 16-carry for 74 yards.

Putting up a lot of points is nothing new for UNC’s offense, but the practice system helps them break down the plays in a new way.

For junior running back T.J. Logan, who had 53 yards on 12 carries, it helps him understand the importance gaining any kind of yardage on each individual down, something that will come in handy with the season opens Sept. 3 against Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome.

“When I’m out there, if I can just get three or four yards, not even take it to the house, I can get some points for my team and help us win the game,” Logan said. “Every run isn’t going to break, so getting three, four hard yards, running into people, things like that, it helps us keep the drive going and make big plays.”

NC State Kay Yow Spring Game Photo Gallery

NC State won its first game of the season … over NC State.

The Kay Yow Spring Game was a windy one, but a pleasing one for fans in attendance. With everything from Philip Rivers returning to Carter-Finley Stadium to rushing touchdowns by Nyheim Hines and Johnny Frasier, Saturday’s game went off without a hitch.

Here’s a look at shots from North State Journal’s photo editor Kevin Martin of NC State’s 2016 Spring Game.

4 observations from the NC State Kay Yow Spring Game

For the first time since December, NC State fans got the opportunity to see football back at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday. It wasn’t as intense or organized as the fall, but the Spring Game gave the fanbase a glimpse into the past and future.

Prior to the start of the game, Wolfpack alums Torry Holt and Philip Rivers walked the sidelines again. During the game, Johnny Frasier and Nyheim Hines both scored touchdowns as the red team blew out the white team, 47-0.

Jalan McClendon passed for a touchdown while Jakobi Meyers rushed for one in he first half. With the Kay Yow Spring Game officially in the books, here’s a look at four observations from Saturday’s exhibition.


1. Meyers, McClendon State Their Case

NC State quarterback Jalan McClendon (2) after practice on Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)
NC State quarterback Jalan McClendon (2) after practice on Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)

The starting nod for the season opener against William & Mary was still up in the air heading into the Red and White Game. After Saturday, that’s still the case.

Both Jalan McClendon and Jakobi Meyers had their flashes for the red team, with McClendon getting it done through the air and Meyers looking sharp in the running game.

Despite harsh wind conditions, McClendon finished 13-for-18 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown to Maurice Trowell.  Donning the green non-contact jersey, McClendon didn’t show off his legs.

Meanwhile, Meyers wowed the fans with a 14-yard rushing touchdown to close out the first half. He compiled 40 rushing yards on 10 attempts while going 12-for-20 with 117 passing yards and a touchdown to Clark Eyers.

Neither has played against ACC competition to this point, but having two capable quarterbacks to choose from is a problem Eli Drinkwitz is happy to have.


2. Running Game Looks Stacked

Whoever takes the reins under center for NC State will be able to hand the ball off to a plethora of running backs.

Hines looked strong for the red team in the early going, rushing for a total of 72 yards on just nine carries with a touchdown. He showed the same zip in the backfield he has in the past at Garner and the Pack last season.

Following a dominant first quarter from the red team offensive line and Hines, Frasier made the switch over to the red sidelines. With the switch, State faithful got a look at No. 22 busting his way through four tacklers on the way to a 32-yard touchdown on his first drive. Frasier followed that up with another touchdown from one yard out and finished with a total of 62 yards on 15 attempts.

Given the agility of Hines, speed of Reggie Gallaspy and vision of Matt Dayes, the Pack already seemingly had three backs to compete in the ACC. Tack on the power style of Frasier, and State’s backfield looks loaded heading into next season.


3. Refs Take Themselves Seriously

It was a Spring Game, but you wouldn’t know it by some of the calls made on Saturday. Sure, some would inspire tweets with “#ACCRefs,” but one was outright silly.

Following a hard hit by Mike Stevens, a reserve cornerback, the referee threw a flag near the spot. The call? Targeting. Stevens was ejected after hitting his own teammate. You can’t make this up.

I’m not entirely sure if this is a sign that targeting calls will be taken more seriously this season or if this official was taking himself a little too seriously. Either way, it was a sight to behold watching Stevens come to terms with getting disqualified from a Spring Game.


4. Philip Rivers is Still a God in Raleigh

Philip Rivers giving current NC State QB Jalan McClendon advice.

A video posted by Cory Smith (@rcorysmith) on

No matter how few and far between his visits are to Raleigh, Rivers is still cherished by NC State fans. While taking the field following the coin toss, Rivers was cheered for louder than the actual team running out of the tunnel.

The Chargers quarterback made the rounds, posing with current coach Dave Doeren and shaking the hands with every coach or player that outstretched their hand. Before he exited Carter-Finley Stadium, Rivers also gave some sage advice to McClendon on the red team sidelines.

Sure, guys like Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon have left their mark on Wolfpack faithful, but Rivers is still a God.

5 things to watch: NC State football Kay Yow Spring Game

RALEIGH – College basketball is now in the rearview mirror and we can all now blissfully enjoy baseball and beautiful spring weather, right? Wrong.

It’s already football season – as if it ever truly stops – and the NC State football Spring Game is this Saturday. No seriously, that’s a thing that’s happening already.

Look, we get it, you’ve been a bit preoccupied with March Madness, MLB’s Opening Day or the Masters. That’s why we’re here. Here’s a look at five things to watch in the NC State Kay Yow Spring Game.


1. QB Battle Still Raging On

NC State quarterback Jalan McClendon (2) after practice on Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)
NC State quarterback Jalan McClendon (2) after practice on Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)

The departure of Jacoby Brissett after 2015 left a void at the most crucial position for any football program – quarterback. Luckily for NC State fans, Dave Doeren recruited heavily at the position to hold a true competition this offseason.

Redshirt sophomore Jalan McClendon is expected to take over the role, but has to prove himself on Saturday. The Charlotte native isn’t worried about taking the reins moving forward.

“I just want to go out there and show what I can do,” said McClendon. “The coaches trust me, and that is all that I really need. … I believe in myself more than anybody else does. I believe the team believes that I can be the quarterback.”

Along with McClendon, Jakobi Meyers and Josh Taylor will also look to put pressure on Doeren to earn the starting role.


2. Offensive Line Still a Work in Progress

Let’s be honest, the offensive line was somewhat of a work in progress throughout all of last season. This year, the team is without standout Joe Thuney and has been riddled with injuries throughout camp.

New offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford isn’t concerned with the early issues in camp.

“It has been like this every year wherever I have been. Last year at one point we had six offensive linemen, before that it was seven or eight,” Ledford said. “You get used to it and you make it happen. That is the whole thing about spring, it is developing what you want your unit to identify with.”

Players who have stepped up in the roles early on are Tyler Jones and Garrett Bradbury, according to Ledford. Expect both to get significant minutes during the Spring Game.


3. First Look at Frasier

NC State running back Johnny Frasier (22) after practice on Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)
NC State running back Johnny Frasier (22) after practice on Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)

Similar to Dennis Smith for the basketball team, NC State fans can’t wait to see what Johnny Frasier looks like on the gridiron. On Saturday, Wolfpack fans will get their first glimpse.

Frasier was hampered earlier in spring practice by a concussion, but told North State Journal last week that he will be on the field Saturday. So what did he gain from having a year off as a redshirt freshman?

“Confidence in myself,” Frasier said. “Knowing that I can play with high-level athletes. Now I feel like I can compete with anyone in the world. Hopefully during the season I can show everybody.”

Look for Frasier to show off his power-running ability on Saturday with fellow running backs Matt Dayes and Reggie Gallaspy not expected to play.


4. Leaders Emerging on Defense

There has been some shuffling at key positions defensively for NC State with Mike Rose, Hakim Jones and Juston Burris all graduating. With players like Bradley Chubb, Jerod Fernandez, Jack Tocho and Kentavius Street still around, the defense appears to be in good hands.

Street has served in mostly a backup role with only 31 tackles and a half sack last year. The former 5-Star defensive tackle expects to step up for the team this year.

“It’s good now because I know the defense like the back of my hand,” Street said. “Now I’m just trying to play as fast as possible.”

The  junior made no bones about who will lead the way for NC State this season.

“With the seniors [last year], we kind of took a backseat,” Street said. “We let them take the lead because they had already been through everything. Now we’re taking the helm and doing things our way.”


5. Offensive Game Plan Taking Shape

North Carolina State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Eli Drinkwitz talks with reporters after Spring football practice at NC State's practice facility. (Eamon Queeney/North State Journal)
North Carolina State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Eli Drinkwitz talks with reporters after Spring football practice at NC State’s practice facility. (Eamon Queeney/North State Journal)

Eli Drinkwitz comes into the NC State system with a lot of offensive weapons, but a scheme that several players are still adapting to in the spring.

The backfield is loaded with Frasier and Nyheim Hines expected to play on Saturday along with Gallaspy and Dayes set to rejoin the team before the fall. Then there’s the receiver options in Jaylen Samuels, Jumichael Ramos and converted tight end Pharoah McKever.

Running a no-huddle spread system similar to what Drinkwitz coached at Boise State was exciting for Hines during the offseason.

“I looked at the film and I was like, ‘Well, this is the offense I wanted to run out of high school,” Hines said. “A year later, I got my dream come true.”

Saturday’s version will still be very much a work in progress, but offensive players raved all spring about how great the system will be for the team. Now it’s time for Drinkwitz to sell the fanbase on the concept.


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Johnny Frasier confirms he will play in NC State football Spring Game

NC State football fans will get their first glimpse of Johnny Frasier in a Wolfpack uniform during the Spring Game on April 9.

No, it won’t be a meaningful game, but the simple fact that Frasier will be playing didn’t seem likely just last week. The redshirt freshman missed multiple practices while going through concussion protocol but confirmed with NSJ Sports that he will be ready to go for the Spring Game.

When asked if he’ll play, Frasier simply answered, “yes sir.” The former Princeton back also praised the Wolfpack coaching staff for preparing him.

“It wasn’t really all that bad,” Frasier said of missing time during spring practice. “I still kept my head in the playbook and talked to the coaches throughout everything. I didn’t get too behind because they made sure to keep me in the loop. It was like another day at practice every time I talked to them.

“These coaches are amazing. They’ve got me to where I need to be.”

Frasier spoke about several other topics including his expectations for NC State, the quarterback battle and bulking up during his redshirt year during his 1-on-1 interview with NSJ Sports.

For the full interview in this Sunday’s edition, subscribe to the North State Journal.


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Romar Morris turns heads at UNC’s Pro Day

On Twitter, Romar Morris goes by @speedkills_21, and after posting a 4.30 40-yard dash, speed might just land the former UNC running back in the NFL.

Morris turned heads with two blazing fast 40-yard dashes in front of NFL scouts from nearly every team Tuesday morning at Navy practice field.

“When I ran it, I heard a couple scouts yell like, ‘wooo,’ which made me yell ‘woo’ too,” Morris said.” I felt pretty good after my second rep.”

Tuesday’s 40 time was pretty impressive, but Morris said he ran it in 4.28 a couple weeks ago.

Because he didn’t get many touches during his senior season, Morris felt like having a good workout Tuesday was imperative to his future success.

“I felt like it was very necessary for me to have a great workout,” Morris said. “That’s something, I didn’t really have the numbers last year, but I contributed a lot to the team, whether it was on special teams or blocking or anything. I just gave all I can to the team. I feel like I had to come out here and show what I could do and impress the scouts because they haven’t seen me in a couple years.”

With a crowded backfield last season, Morris’ production dropped off from 65 carries in 2014 to just 10 in 2015. In 2015, Morris had just 64 rushing yards, 54 receiving yards and one touchdown.

With his traditional offensive role decreasing, Morris found a home on special teams — something that Morris thinks will make him a more attractive NFL prospect.

“I love special teams because in the league you’re going to have to be able to play special teams,” Morris said. “Special teams is one thing that I keep myself on. I want to be in the NFL playing special teams as long as I can. If I get to the NFL and only play special teams, I’ll be happy with that. So just being in the process, playing special teams, playing offense/defense, I can do whatever they ask me to do.”

Turner still turning heads

Fresh off a trip to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, offensive lineman Landon Turner showed off his skills a little bit closer to home.

Before he came back to Chapel Hill, Turner spent time in California learning a variety of new techniques from different professionals.
“It’s really nice to work with a new coach, especially an NFL offensive line coach,” Turner said. “I worked with Hudson Houck, who was an O-line coach for the Cowboys for a while, in California. Got a few sessions in with Nick Hardwick, he used to play for the Chargers, when I was in San Diego.

“I’ve had some different styles. There’s a thousand ways to skin a cat and I just love the game. That was the fun part for me. That was the fun part today, doing the drills.”

Turner, who has a visit scheduled with New Orleans in early April, took some reps at center during the pro day, snapping the ball to quarterback Marquise Williams.

Though he primarily lined up at right guard during his time at UNC, Turner wants to expand his versatility to be a more attractive pro prospect.

“They only travel with seven guys, so I want to be one of those seven guys,” he said. “Typically, unless you’re a knockout, it’s good to be versatile. I want to be one of those seven guys. I’m going to be one of those seven guys come this fall that’s going to be traveling on an NFL team. I’m going to show them I can play more than one position.”

Pogge implements agent program

With Pro Day comes an influx of scouts, family and agents to the practice field. In the past, there’s been a negative connotation associated with agents on UNC’s campus, but these days, UNC has a new system to promote positive agent-player interactions.

Associate Athletic Director Paul Pogge, who began working at UNC in 2012, implemented a program to connect athletes with agents to keep the university more in the loop with those dealings.

“It’s pretty extensive in everything that he does,” coach Larry Fedora said. “Basically, what he does, the agents that are registered with the state, they register with the university. And when they do that, then Paul sets up interviews with our players for them. And Paul is usually present in every one of those interviews.

“And then we instruct our guys that if anybody tries to contact them outside of Paul, they let Paul know and then Paul basically bans those people from our campus. The ones that do it the right way are welcome on our campus and the ones that aren’t, they’re not welcome.”

Pogge’s program helped connect quite a few former UNC football players with their current representation, including Morris to Wilmington-based agent Gary Shipman.

“With that, I was able to meet a lot of agents over the last two years and get to sit down and talk to them and get familiar with them and they pretty much sold themselves to me,” Morris said. “I feel like Gary Shipman was one of the best. He really goes after it for his players and he really goes hard for you.”

NC State running back Johnny Frasier going through concussion protocol

Johnny Frasier is expected to be a significant part of NC State’s offense in 2016, but an early setback is already hindering him. NC State officials have confirmed the running back has missed the last two practices as he goes through the concussion protocol.

The Princeton product came in as a four-star running back and seventh overall in the country at the position by 247Sports. After being flipped from Florida State, Frasier redshirted during his freshman campaign.

“Johnny looked good the first few practices, he’s been learning,” fellow running back Nyheim Hines said of Frasier. “I’ve seen a big change in him over the last year. So I can’t wait for him to come back.”

NC State head coach Dave Doeren didn’t comment on the status of Frasier following Tuesday’s practice. Prior to the injury, Doeren had high praise for the tailback.

“He grew up a lot,” Doeren said. “Coming from a small town, and really the competition he was playing against … he was just out of shape, he’ll tell you that. He’s changed his body and he’s grown up a lot. The game is starting to slow down for him a little bit. Now it’s about learning the terminology.”

With new offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz implementing his system, not having Frasier on the field is not ideal. However, the depth of the position with Hines, Matt Dayes and others at the position, Drinkwitz still has experience in the backfield.

Luckily for the Wolfpack, Frasier has time to recover before the start of the 2016 season opener against William & Mary on Sept. 1. His status for the Spring Game — set for April 9 at 1 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium — has not been announced.


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N.C. State tabs Eliah Drinkwitz as offensive coordinator

After relieving offensive coordinator Matt Canada off his duties earlier this offseason, N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren needed to make a splash with his next hire. On Monday afternoon, he did just that with the announcement that Eliah Drinkwitz will join the staff as the OC and quarterback’s coach.

Drinkwitz comes to Raleigh after a two-year tenure with Boise State, but just one season as an offensive coordinator under his belt. That one season with the Broncos, however, was a sensational one. Drinkwitz called the shots for the 17th-ranked scoring and 19th-ranked passing offense in the country.

Oh, and the Broncos posted 55 points against Northern Illinois – Doeren’s former team – in the Poinsettia Bowl. That background was good enough to earn him a three-year deal with a $450,000 annual salary from N.C. State, per associate athletics director Fred Demarest.

Dave Doeren has a lot of pressure to perform next season after a 7-6 season in 2015. Image courtesy of @BackingThePack.
Dave Doeren has a lot of pressure to perform next season after a 7-6 season in 2015. Image courtesy of @BackingThePack.

Prior to his two years in Boise – the first as a tight ends coach – Drinkwitz spent two seasons with Arkansas State. His teams went 10-3 and 8-5 with back-to-back wins in the Bowl. Those seasons were spent under Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin, two extremely successful head coaches.

The biggest impact felt from the Drinkwitz hire might be on the Wolfpack’s next quarterback. Whether it’s Jalan McClendon or Jakobi Meyers – both rising sophomores – the Pack will have a new signal-caller in a crucial season for Doeren.

With the Drinkwitz hire, Doeren can have confidence he can get the job done.

After all, his one season as an OC was spent with a freshman quarterback. In just 10 games under center, Brett Rypien passed for 3,353 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also showed growth late in the season with six touchdowns to just one pick over his final three games.

The growth of either McClendon or Meyers won’t have to be immediate, necessarily. Games against William & Mary and Old Dominion at home should give either time to develop. The road game at East Carolina doesn’t look easy, per se, but it will be against Scottie Montgomery coaching his second game.

Drinkwitz also has a stable of running backs that includes Matt Dayes, Johnny Frasier, Reggie Gallaspy and Dakwa Nichols. That’s an impressive backfield, even with a wide-eyed QB.

Though he has just 10 years of coaching experience overall and only one as a primary offensive coordinator, Drinkwitz clearly has experience in this situation. Needing to groom a young quarterback against ACC opponents, State’s new OC has his hands full this offseason.

What he’s able to accomplish in just one season might shape the future for both Doeren and N.C. State as a whole. No pressure, right?