N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien, in sizing up his 23 signees, believes the Pack put together a "long, tall, very athletic class."
Take the four defensive ends signed by the Pack. All are at least 6 feet 4, weigh at least 220 pounds. All can run, O'Brien said, and fit the progression the Pack has made the last couple of years in getting taller, longer.
"When you look at the kids who are pass rushers now on the outside that we signed, that's a whole different breed than we brought in before," O'Brien said. "We're finally beginning to look like our guys did at Boston College, like the guys playing in the Super Bowl this weekend. That's where we've been trying to get to, and this class will go a long way to that."
Kenderius Whitehead of Lithonia, Ga., is the most heralded of the ends and one of the Pack's top signees. There was some suspense when word spread Wednesday morning that Whitehead might change his mind and sign with Clemson, but the 6-4, 220-pounder honored his commitment to NCSU.
With the decision of Wolfpack linebacker Terrell Manning to enter the NFL draft, the Pack had an immediate hole to fill and and may have done it by signing Robert Caldwell, a 6-3, 235-pound California native who played at the College of the Desert.
"The Manning situation changed our thinking in a lot of respects," O'Brien said. "To get a mature body in here that's played at the college level ... I think it was very important to get somebody with that maturity to help us to be able to hopefully play right away."
O'Brien said he also was happy to sign linebacker Drew Davis of Raleigh. The Broughton High standout initially was going to Minnesota but opted to stay home and play for the Pack.
While eight of the signees are from North Carolina, another six are from Georgia, including Shadrach Thornton of Hinesville, Ga., the lone running back in the class and a key pickup according to O'Brien.
"We made that a priority when we came here (in 2007)," O'Brien said of recruiting Georgia. "Not so much going to Florida, as was the previous regime, but to go to Georgia."
The class has two quarterbacks, including Pete Thomas, a transfer from Colorado State who started two seasons for the Rams. Thomas, who passed for 4,269 yards and 18 TDs in his two years at CSU, must sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules.
"When you complete 64 percent of your passes and you start every game for two years, that's really going increase the competition a year from now when Mike (Glennon) leaves," O'Brien said. "Guys like (Thomas) don't fall off the tree all the time."
Another interesting twist to the class is that it includes four sets of teammates: Whitehead and defensive back J.J. Jones (Lithonia, Ga.); wide receiver Charlie Hegedus and defensive back Niles Clark (Marietta, Ga.); wideout Xavier Griffin and tight end David Grinnage (Newark, Del.), and offensive linemen Quincy McKinney and John Tu'uta (Fork Union Military).
Looking to spring practice, which begins March 23, O'Brien said offensive lineman R.J. Mattes had surgery on his right ankle and probably will miss all of the spring work. So will defensive back Jarvis Byrd, who continues to recover from a knee injury.
O'Brien said running back Mustafa Greene and linebacker D.J. Green are probable for spring work.
Here is the Wolfpack's 2012 signing class:
- Deylan Buntyn, DT, 6-4, 330, Havelock, New Mexico Military Institute, Enrolled
- Bryce Kennedy, OL, 6-4, 285, Southern Pines, Pinecrest HS, Enrolled
- Quincy McKinney, OL, 6-4, 300, Columbus, Ga., Fork Union Military Academy, Enrolled
- Manny Stocker, QB, 6-3, 200, Coatesville, Pa., Coatesville Area HS, Enrolled
- Pete Thomas, QB, 6-5, 225, El Cajon, Calif., Colorado State, Transfer
- Josh Sessoms, DB, 6-3, 185, Bailey, Southern Nash HS, 7:10 a.m.
- Xavier Griffin, WR, 6-3, 185, Newark, Del., Newark HS, 7:41 a.m.
- David Grinnage, TE, 6-5, 230, Newark, Del., Newark HS, 7:42 a.m.
- Joe Wright, DE, 6-7, 235, Greenville, Rose HS, 7:51 a.m.
- Desmond Owino, DE, 6-5, 235, Nairobi, Kenya, Sanderson HS, 7:55 a.m.
- Marchez Coates, DB, 5-11, 172, Pomfret, Md., McDonough HS, 8:10 a.m.
- Drew Davis, LB, 6-3, 230, Raleigh, Broughton HS, 8:10 a.m.
- Niles Clark, DB, 5-10, 173, Marietta, Ga., Lassiter HS, 8:15 a.m.
- Charlie Hegedus, WR, 6-2, 195, Marietta, Ga., Lassiter HS, 8:28 a.m.
- k'Hadree Hooker, DT, 6-2, 285, Deep Run, South Lenoir HS, 8:05 a.m.
- Shadrach Thornton, RB, 6-1, 200, Hinesville, Ga., Liberty County HS, 9 a.m.
- Eddie Gordan, OL, 6-2, 305, Boiling Springs, S.C., Boiling Springs HS, 8:46 a.m.
- M.J. Salahuddin, LB, 6-2, 192, Fayetteville, Jack Britt HS, 7:30 a.m.
- John Tu'uta, OL, 6-2, 325, Fredericksburg, Va., Fork Union Military Academy, 8:15 a.m.
- Tyler Knox, DE, 6-4, 225, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Myrtle Beach HS, 10:04 a.m.
- J.J. Jones, DB, 6-4, 205, Lithonia, Ga., Martin Luther King HS, 9:30 a.m.
- Robert Caldwell, LB, 6-3, 235, Twentynine Palms, Calif., College of the Desert, 10:50
- Kenderius Whitehead DE 6-4 220 Lithonia, Ga. Martin Luther King HS 8:58