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February 7, 2011

State of the position: Defensive ends

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 defensive end position.


Season Breakdown


Preseason spin
There were major question marks at defensive end. Starters Willie Young and Shea McKeen were gone, and the only experienced players returning was fifth-year seniors Audi Augustin and Michael Lemon. The Pack sought immediate help in Northeastern transfer and fifth-year senior David Akinniyi, who arrived in spring after Northeastern closed down their football program.

State was also welcoming back redshirt junior Jeff Rieskamp, who missed the 2009 season with a sports hernia after a promising rookie campaign in 2008. The Pack also had redshirt freshman Sylvester Crawford.

Reality
Getting Rieskamp back healthy and adding Akinniyi proved to be huge for the Wolfpack. Both ended up being starters, and they joined in a four-player rotation that also included Augustin and Lemon. While the group did not have a banner year, they played solid and made enough plays to at least not be a weakness.

Lemon led the way statistically with 34 tackles, including 9.5 for losses and 3.5 sacks. Rieskamp had 23 tackles, including 4.5 for losses and two sacks, while Akinniyi added 20 tackles, also adding 4.5 for loss and getting to the quarterback three times. Augustin finished with 17 tackles, including 2.5 sacks. Together, the foursome had 21 tackles for losses and 11 sacks.


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.

Audi Augustin, Class of 2006
Jeff Rieskamp, Class of 2007

Analysis: As clearly is evident, there was not a strong foundation of defensive ends on the roster. That's why junior college defensive end additions like McKeen and Lemon and the transfer David Akinniyi have been very necessary over the past few years. Part of the issue was the some defensive ends signed were better suited to play defensive tackle, like J.R. Sweezy and Markus Kuhn.

The Future?
The future are high school players that signed in 2008 through 2010.

Sylvester Crawford, Class of 2009
Art Norman, Class of 2010
Theodore Rich, Class of 2010
Dave Mann, Class of 2011
Mike Rose, Class of 2011

Analysis: The need to build for the future had to be balanced with the need to fill immediate needs for depth at defensive end. However, NC State is slowly building a foundation that should appease the need to keep going after junior college recruits and transfers down the road. What's more worrisome is that neither Norman or Rich were highly rated or heavily recruited, and Mann and Rose, while both had respectable offers, were only marginally more highly regarded than Norman and Rich.

It should be noted that a pair of players we have listed as defensive tackles, Darryl Cato-Bishop (Class of 2009) and A.J. Ferguson (Class of 2010) could also end up lining up at defensive end. Crawford suffered a serious knee injury last fall, and there has been no timetable given for his return.


State Of The Position


The good news is that the numbers at defensive end are getting better, but it's still not quite where it needs to be. The Pack signed JUCO All-American McKay Frandsen from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah for immediate help, and it's needed. Just Rieskamp returns with considerable experience from the 2010 squad. Defensive end will clearly be one of if not the biggest question marks on the 2011 team.

How NC State looks down the road remains to be seen. Will Cato-Bishop and/or Ferguson move to defensive end? How quickly can Crawford recover from his recent knee injury? The most important piece of the puzzle though will be the development of Norman and Rich from the 2010 class and Mann and Rose in the 2011 group.


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


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