As alluded to yesterday, one of the two major questions facing the Wolfpack this spring is the future of All-ACC Quarterback Russell Wilson. Will he stay on and pilot one of the ACC’s most prolific offenses for another season? Or will Mike Glennon be forced to step in and take the reins? Also, who is the favorite to replace Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene at the tailback position? FRUMP it, football fans…
(shout to packpride, a great resource for Wolfpack info)
Like the point guard in college basketball, THE most important position on the college football field is the Quarterback. Russell Wilson has done a masterful job in his first two season’s at the helm, accounting for over 50 TD’s to date. However, the Wolfpack must prepare this spring for the very real prospect of Wilson focusing his career on baseball.
6-6 220 lb. Mike Glennon is doing just that. Glennon
is practicing this spring as if he will be the starter, taking ALL of the first team reps. He must use this time wisely to develop a rhythm with his receiving corps, as well as establishing himself as a leader of this team. It is a very real possibility that Mike Glennon will be ‘the man’ this season. The Wolfpack are thin behind Glennon; the only other healthy QBs on the roster are two walk-ons, with scholarship QB Everette Proctor still recovering from shoulder surgery this fall. It is likely that Proctor may not even remain at QB and that the coaching staff will decide to use his athleticism at the safety position once he is able to practice. He is currently listed on the roster as “QB/S.” While the Pack will welcome heralded Tyler Brosius to the mix this fall, Glennon must be ready to play either as a starter or a back up.
Frump prediction – Nobody knows what Wilson will decide to do. During the season, we heard rumors it was his last. Immediately following, the talk was that Wilson loved the game of football too much to give it up yet. The latest is that maybe he is leaning towards a focus on the baseball field. I think Wilson will ultimately return for one more season. He is the ultimate team guy and I think he will miss his teammates and the unique camaraderie of football this spring. Additionally, Wilson is not even a full-time starter for Avent’s squad, which will hinder his draft prospects.
Arguably the most interesting position battle this spring will involve the running back position, where the Pack sport three capable, if unproven players to carry the mail.
1. Curtis Underwood (RS JR) – The red-shirt junior from New Jersey is the veteran of the bunch and the likely favorite to win the position this spring. Underwood has 2 things Coach O’Brien loves: a willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team (Underwood burned his redshirt as a freshman when injuries struck and accepted a redshirt last season to space out the depth chart a little better) and size. Underwood is a stout 5-11 220 and has shown a penchant for being a tough, between the tackles runner. Historically, TOB favors the larger bruising backs.
2. James Washington (SO) – Washington surprised everyone last season when he saw significant playing
time early last season as a true freshman. Most assumed Washington would redshirt, but he burst onto the scene as a true freshman early on against South Carolina. Washington would collect a few scores over the next few weeks, demonstrating great pass catching ability and a clear change of pace to the bigger Toney Baker before suffering a minor knee injury and missing the rest of the year. Washington is a game-changer with his quickness and speed. Should he demonstrate an ability to pick up blocking assignments, his stock could explode and become a household name in the ACC.
3. Brandon Barnes (RS SO) – Barnes was a highly-rated player out of Bunn high school near Raleigh, but is still looking to make his impact on the Wolfpack squad. Barnes is probably best described physically as a mix between Washington and Underwood and was known for his playmaking ability in high school…although it was mainly on defense. There is no doubt Barnes will have his chance this season, as TOB loves to rotate his backs and keep them fresh. Barnes MUST learn that he cannot always beat NCAA defenders to the edge and start taking the 3-4 tough yards instead of always looking for the homerun.
The Pack will also welcome three players in the fall who could make an impact at the running back position. Two are highly recruited freshmen Anthony Creecy (Durham, NC) and Mustafa Greene (SC). Both will likely redshirt and Creecy may even play WR, but TOB has shown with Washington that he is not afraid to play the young guys if they perform. Also joining the Pack this fall will be junior college transfer Tobias Palmer. Palmer may also redshirt and play WR, but he may be too dangerous to keep off the field. He does not yet possess the physicality, but he has the speed in spades. If he learns to play a more physical style, he could be the wild card of the bunch as he put up gaudy numbers as a JC running back.
NC State had not used a fullback in the traditional sense under TOB, but that may change as they will welcome back (JR) Taylor Gentry. The former walk-on does a little bit of everything and is a great receiver out of the backfield. Word is he has put on some good weight so look for the Pack to throw a few more lead plays at the opposition this season…especially if the inexperienced Mike Glennon is at QB. The Pack also may play true freshman Logan Winkles on special teams and in that lead blocking role. Winkles sports a great highlight reel showing his physical nature and was the Georgia 5-A state heavyweight wrestling champion.
Frump prediction: Underwood begins the season as the starter, but Washington finishes it with more touches and cements his place as a rising star in the ACC. Washington simply looks too explosive to keep off the field. I do not expect to see too much drop off in the rushing statistics over the course of the season. The Pack passing game will continue to garner a lot of attention from opposing coordinators which should open up some running lanes.