February 10, 2011

State of the position: Cornerbacks

With the 2010 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 2010, and how the future shapes up. We continue with the cornerback position.


Season Breakdown


Preseason spin
For the second straight year, cornerback was a bit of a question mark, especially after it was revealed over the summer that promising sophomore Rashard Smith would miss the season with a knee injury. He joined classmate Jarvis Byrd, who also flashed good potential as a rookie, on the injury reserve list with a knee injury. Both were expected to miss the season, although there was hope that perhaps Byrd might return midseason.

That left redshirt sophomore C.J. Wilson as the most experienced corner returning. Redshirt junior Justin Byers had starting experience, but the majority of his playing time had been at safety. True freshman David Amerson, a highly touted recruit, was a wildcard.

Reality
The corner play was improved this year. Byers started the first four games of the season before being supplanted by Amerson, while Wilson manned the other corner spot.

Wilson had 46 tackles and had a co-team high six pass breakups. He also picked off a pair of passes and returned both of them for touchdowns. Amerson added 57 tackles, assisting on one for a loss, and forced a fumble.

There was little depth behind Wilson and Amerson. Byers finished the year with 15 tackles, including two for loss, and five pass breakups, but his playing time decreased as the year developed.


Analyzing Recruiting Trend


The Supposed Foundation
By the foundation, we mean high school players that were signed in the Classes of 2006, 2007 and 2008 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.

Everett Lewis, Class of 2006
DeAndre Morgan, Class of 2006
Akeem Cunningham, Class of 2008
Dominique Ellis, Class of 2008
Gary Grant, Class of 2008
C.J. Wilson, Class of 2008

Analysis: There was a weak foundation left by Chuck Amato to Tom O'Brien. Everett Lewis never played a down for NC State, and DeAndre Morgan and Dominique Ellis both left the team before their eligibility was up. However, most of O'Brien's first cornerback recruits were not big hits either. Akeem Cunningham never suited up, and Gary Grant has been primarily a special teams performer thus far. Wilson is the only recruit in that time span that has panned out.

The Future?
The future are high school and prep players that signed in 2009 through 2012.

Jarvis Byrd, Class of 2009
Rashard Smith, Class of 2009
David Amerson, Class of 2010
Juston Burris, Class of 2011
Tyrrell Burriss, Class of 2011
Niles Clark, Class of 2012

Analysis: The future could be very bright at corner if Byrd and Smith make complete recoveries from their knee injuries. Byrd was cleared to play during last season, but the decision was made to redshirt him. Amerson looked like a keeper in his first year. Burriss is an unheralded recruit that State picked up late in the process. Burris could also line up at receiver or safety.


State Of The Position


NC State should be in very good shape at cornerback for the next couple of years.


Previous State of the Positions
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Offensive Linemen
Defensive Ends
Defensive Tackles Linebackers


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