What you need to know ...
Expect this to be another aggressive D with plenty of blitzing
and plenty of big plays despite the loss of several key players.
You don't quickly replace a trio of defensive linemen like Mario
Williams, Manny Lawson and John McCargo, but the Wolfpack has
plenty of size, speed, and talent on the front seven to get in
the backfield on a regular basis. Tackles DeMario Pressley and
Tank Tyler should be fantastic right off the bat, while Pat
Lowrey and LeRue Rumph are nice linebackers to work around. The
secondary has the potential to be among the ACC's most
productive led by the safety tandem of Garland Heath and Miguel
Tackles: Garland Heath, 84
Sacks: Several at
Interceptions: Garland Heath, 5
Star of the defense: Senior CB A.J. Davis
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior LB
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman DE Willie
Best pro prospect: Senior DT Tank Tyler
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Davis, 2)
S Garland Heath, 3) DT DeMario Presley
Strength of the defense: Tackles, safeties
Weakness of the defense:
Experienced defensive ends, overall experienced depth
Many will assume the line will go in the tank
after losing Mario Williams, Manny Lawson and John McCargo, but don't be
stunned if this turns out to be one of the ACC's better front fours
after a little bit of time. The starting tackles, Tank Tyler and DeMario
Pressley, should be excellent, while Willie Young, Little Wright, and
John Amanchukwu are big, talented pass rushers on the outside.
The key to the unit: Don't set the expectations low after the big
loss of star power. This is a big line that will get into the backfield,
but if it's not the second coming of the best front four in school
history, that's fine. Even so, there's enough talent to have a big year.
Defensive Line Rating: 7.5
- DE Willie Young, RFr.
All Young has to do is replace the number one pick in the 2006 NFL
Draft, Mario Williams. While he's not the physical freak of nature that
Super Mario is, He's 6-5 and 230 pounds with decent speed and pass
rushing skills. He was ready to play last year, but got banged up in
spring ball and ended up redshirting. He's not going to put up 14 sacks
and 23 tackles for loss, but he'll be a good one.
- DT DeMario Pressley, Jr. - 43 tackles, 1 sack, 6 TFL
Pressley got the starting nod last year and played at a high level by
the end of the year. He's a strong 6-4 and 293 pounds with next-level
talent once he gets a little more time. He has gotten better and better
since his true freshman season and should be a rock wherever he plays.
Needed at tackle, he'll stay on the inside unless the ends start to have
- DT DeMarcus "Tank" Tyler, Sr. - 41 tackles, 2 sacks, 4.5 TFL
Part of the starting mix last year seeing time over the second half of
the year when John McCargo got hurt, the 305-pound Tyler turned into
decent performer with all the attention paid to the stars up front. Now
he'll have to be the main man early on with all his experience needing
to translate into a special season. He's one of the team's strongest
players and should be a rock against the run.
- DE Littleton Wright, Jr.
The fantastic JUCO transfer will take over for Manny Lawson on the right
side and should make a name for himself right away. He's a speedy 6-6,
244-pound playmaker who made 9.5 sacks for Lackawanna CC last year.
Bigger and stronger after taking last year off with a redshirt, he
should be a dark-horse for a double-digit sack season.
- DE John Amanchukwu, Sr. - 1 tackle
A huge end and a possible tackle, the 6-4, 283-pound senior and former
offensive guard saw a little bit of time last year after transferring
from St. Augustine's College in North Carolina. He could end up taking
over a starting spot, but will likely start out the season behind
Littleton Wright on the right side.
- DE Martrel Brown, Jr. - 10 tackles
Able to play tackle or guard, the 290-pound junior will be moved around
where needed providing size and decent pass rushing skills. He'll start
out playing behind Willie Young at left end and will spend more than a
little bit of time in the tackle rotation.
- DT John Bedics, Soph. - 2 tackles
Bedics spent last year as a reserve seeing a little bit of garbage time.
Now the 283-pound sophomore will spend time rotating behind Tank Tyler
on the right side. The coaching staff really likes his potential and
will make sure to find him meaningful playing time.
The potential is there for this to be a productive crew, but
it'll hurt to lose 250 tackles of Stephen Tulloch and Oliver Hoyte. Pat
Lowery will be more than fine for Hoyte in the middle, while the fast
LeRue Rumph should be productive on the strongside. And then things get
sticky with former running back Reggie Davis providing a big, quick
replacement for Tulloch on the weakside. James Martin II is an
interesting prospect who'll see time inside and out, while Ray Michel
will be a big part of the mix behind Davis.
The key to the unit: This group will have to make
more plays on its own without the all-star front four to play behind
that last year's corps got to work with.
Linebacker Rating: 7
- LeRue Rumph, Jr. - 61 tackles, 1 TFL
The extremely active former safety was fantastic last season starting
most of the season on the strongside. He had problems with a rib injury
over the last few games of the season and missed a few games, but he
still finished sixth on the team in stops. At 225-pounds, he he's a fast
defender who should be better now that he has a year of experience.
- Pat Lowery, Sr. - 39 tackles, 1 sack, 4.5 TFL, 2 quarterback
Lowery is a seasoned veteran who should be solid taking over for Oliver
Hoyte in the middle after seeing a little bit of starting time.
It's asking a lot for anyone
to replace Hoyte's 101 tackles and 12 tackles for loss, but the 6-1,
242-pound senior should come close.
He has been a special teams
superstar over the past few seasons and puts up huge numbers whenever he
has seen time at linebacker.
- Reggie Davis, Sr. - 27 carries, 77 yds, 1 catch, 18 yds
The former running back will try to replace the 149 tackles, six sacks,
and 20.5 tackles for loss from Stephen Tulloch on the weakside. He's a
quick 246 pounds who will be one of the defense's most scrutinized
players until he learns to get the hand of the position. Hitting won't
be a problem, but being in the right position might be.
- James Martin II, Jr. - 8 tackles
Neck-and-neck with LeRue Rumph for a shot at starting on the strongside
and the top backup in the middle behind Pat Lowery, Martin moved from
defensive end and should be more of a force this year after being two
years removed from a torn ACL. At 236 pounds he has good size and is a
better fit for the inside.
- Ernest Jones, Jr. - 22 tackles, 1 sack
Jones saw plenty of work throughout last year with most of his time
spent in the first few games. He's a safety-sized 217 pounds on the
strongside with excellent quickness and good pass rushing ability.
- Ray Michel, RFr.
Expected to be a top special teamer as well as a key weakside
linebacker, he'll need to be ready to roll right away with Reggie Davis
learning the ropes. While a bit undersized at 6-0 and 224 yards, he's
expected to become a disruptive force after a little bit of time; he'll
be one to keep an eye on over the next few years.
Can this group carry the defense until the
front seven can replace the key parts?
The NC State pass defense finished fourth in the ACC
in pass defense and eighth in the nation in pass efficiency defense, but
it's not going to have the benefit of the pass rush it was helped by
last year. Lightning fast A.J. Davis should be one of the league's
better corners, while safeties Garland Heath and Miguel Scott form a
big, underrated safety tandem that could be special in time. There's
plenty of speed and talent among the reserves, but more experience would
The key to the unit: The corners have to be tighter
without Mario Williams and Manny Lawson terrorizing opposing
Secondary Rating: 8
- CB Jimmie Sutton, Jr. - 23 tackles, 1 sack
Mostly a nickel back last year, Sutton will take over for Marcus Hudson
on the right side. He won't be the hitter Hudson was, but he's a good
athlete with enough experience with two starts and 11 games of playing
time to be ready to be a steady number two corner on the other side of
- FS Miguel Scott, Jr. - 53 tackles, 1 interception, 3 broken up
Scott had a decent year starting in ten games, but he needs to make more
big plays and has to be more of a leader this year. He's too good an
athlete and has too much upside to not grow into a star. He was
productive as a hitter despite having a few problems with an ankle
- Rover Garland Heath, Sr. - 84 tackles, 1 TFL, 5 interceptions,
5 broken up passes
Easily one of the nation's most underrated safeties, the 6-2, 225-pound
senior finished third on the team in tackles and was a tremendous
ball-hawker. He's not just a strong defensive player, he was also named
the team's special teams player of the year. There are few more
consistent defensive backs in the conference.
- CB A.J. Davis, Jr. - 53 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 2
interceptions, 9 broken up passes
Davis went from being a nice reserve to the steady rock at left corner
last season. He's the team's fastest player who won't get outrun by any
ACC receiver, and he's not afraid to get his nose dirty and make a few
big tackles. 40 of his 53 stops were solo.
- Rover DaJuan Morgan, Soph. - 46 tackles, 1 interception, 2.5
Morgan had a strong season after returning from a disappointing 2004
thanks to a hip injury suffered in a high school car accident that
wasn't 100% yet. Now that he's bigger and stronger, he has All-ACC
potential once he can crack the starting lineup, but for now, he'll be
one of the team's best special teamers and a key backup behind Garland
Heath at Rover.
- CB Phillip Holloman, Jr. - 6 tackles
Mostly a special teamer so far, Holloman will start out as a bigger
option behind Jimmie Sutton at right corner. He's a big, 4.32 fast
defender who's overdue to start making plays on defense.
- CB Levin Neal, Soph. - 11 tackles
Fast, fast, fast. With 4.25 speed, the 191-pound sophomore will soon
find his way on the field in some form after a decent year as a true
freshman special teamer. He started getting more and more work as the
season went on and should see work on the left side behind A.J. Davis.
- FS J.C. Neal, Soph. - 8 tackles
Mostly a special teamer last year, Neal saw some work on defense at the
end of the season getting his most playing time in the bowl win over
South Florida. He's a decent-sized hitter who should be even more of a
special teams standout this year.
NC State special teams are always dangerous, and they should be
tremendous again with John Deraney a rock-solid all-around kicker and
good speed in the return game with
Darrell Blackman back. He was one of the nation's best kickoff returners
last season averaging 29.1 yards per kick, but he could stand to get
more pop as a punt returner after averaging a mere 6.7 yards per try.
The key to the unit: Better coverage. Deraney is a
strong punter, but NC State finished tenth in the ACC in net punting and
allowed 21.7 yards per kickoff return.
Special Teams Rating: 8
- PK/P John Deraney, Sr. - 15-20 FGs, 28-28 extra points,
72 punts, 2,884 yds, 40.1 yards per kick, 23 inside the 20
Deraney is back for his third season as the team's main all-around
kicker hitting all 62 of his extra point tries in his career and putting
40 kicks inside the 20. He has a big leg with decent range in all areas;
he'll be a strength.