Last season, the Wolfpack’s offensive skill players left more to be desired, with some dealing with heartbreaking injuries, while others did not live up to the hype. This year, it seems as if the room has something to prove, and NC State fans should be in store for a special season from some of these players.
Entering the season, the Wolfpack running backs are the most exciting aspect of the NC State offense, starting with the dynamic trio of sophomore Zonovan Knight, sophomore Jordan Houston and junior Ricky Person Jr. Knight flashed greatness in his first season with the Pack, amassing 745 rushing yards despite missing time throughout the season.
In all, the three backs racked up 10 rushing touchdowns, with Houston and Person combining for 755 yards themselves. Quietly, Houston is primed for another huge season after he stepped up in 2019, as he is less of a power back and more of an agile pass-catcher and poured in over 100 yards receiving.
If that wasn’t enough to convince someone these backs were primed for a strong year, consider redshirt sophomore Trent Pennix, who is a very underrated facet of NC State’s offense. Pennix only contributed 135 scrimmage yards, but considering his low snap count, that number is more impressive than it seems. NC State also loves its blockers, and Pennix showcased a knack for that in limited opportunity.
Lastly, redshirt freshman Delbert Mimms III looks as if he will be able to contribute quickly, as he is already listed as the fourth back on the roster and is earning praise from coaches. In high school, Mimms averaged 7.1 yards per carry across his career along with 28 rushing touchdowns.
Last season, NC State’s wide receivers were supposed to step up and take the place of huge losses in Kelvin Harmon, Jakobi Meyers and Stephen Louis, who all moved on to pursue professional careers.
Instead, graduate C.J. Riley missed the season with an injury, while senior Emeka Emezie and redshirt junior Thayer Thomas failed to replace the production of 2018’s stellar squad. This season, the group carries a large chip on its shoulder, with Riley, Emezie and Thomas all needing rebound seasons in different ways.
Look for redshirt sophomore Devin Carter to have a huge season, as he improved drastically over last season, going as far as becoming a co-recipient of the Alpha Rising award, given to the most improved player on the team. He also had a 140-yard outing on just six catches versus Boston College and finished second on the team in receiving yards.
On top of that, the team adds four-star recruit freshman Porter Rooks as well as returning sophomore Keyon Lesane and redshirt sophomore Jasiah Provillon. Lesane is an intriguing factor for this season, as the team had him doing a little bit of everything, including rushing, catching, returning kicks and even attempting a pass.
While there are not any proven commodities in this room, at least a few should be expected to have great seasons for the Pack. It helps that there seems to be less quarterback confusion heading into the season, so having an established chemistry with the group’s signal caller will help tremendously.
If head coach Dave Doeren fully unleashes redshirt senior Cary Angeline this season, NC State fans should be prepared for a monstrous season. Angeline is 6-foot-7 and should easily be able to pick passes up over the heads of defenders. Angeline was not used much last season, but with some question marks surrounding the Pack’s receivers, Angeline should have ample opportunity to break out and make a name for himself.
Meanwhile, graduate Dylan Autenrieth has the aforementioned blocking ability the Pack covets, and his leadership and frame make him invaluable to protecting the quarterback. Add redshirt senior Dylan Parham and freshman Ezemdi Udoh to the equation, and NC State’s tight ends form one of the most underrated position groups in the ACC.