Monday, January 31, 2011

Cornerback picks N.C. State for 2012

Two days before signing day in 2011, cornerback Niles Clark has reserved an early spot in N.C. State's 2012 recruiting class by committing to the Wolfpack.

Clark, who's 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, is a three-year starter who was a teammate of current N.C. State starting center Camden Wentz at Lassiter High in Marietta, Ga.

"Camden kind of did a little recruiting there because Camden has had a good experience at the school," said Lassiter coach Jep Irwin.

Irwin said Clark wasn't inclined to court attention and go through the recruiting process throughout his senior season. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest had shown interest in Clark, but Irwin said that what Clark really wanted was a scholarship offer from N.C. State.

When the offer came, he accepted it. Last season Clark intercepted three passes, returning one for a touchdown; made 53 tackles; and blocked six extra points or field goals.

"He's very athletic," Irwin said. "He has good size for a corner and tremendous technique."

Ken Tysiac

Pack adds DT commitment

Ty McGill, a 6-foot-1, 275-pound defensive tackle from Jessup, Ga., has become the latest member of N.C. State's 2011 recruiting class as coach Tom O'Brien is making a strong finishing push with signing day approaching Wednesday.

McGill is the fourth three-star player to commit to N.C. State in the last eight days; the others are wide receiver Hakeem Flowers of Greenville, S.C.; defensive tackle Chris Jones of Jacksonville, Fla., and tight end Benson Browne of Cincinnati.

-- Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Former Duke commit headed to S.C. State

West Charlotte running back Jalen Simmons, who had been committed to Duke, said this afternoon that he will attend South Carolina State instead.

"I'd like to thank them [Duke] for giving me a chance to play for them," Simmons said. "Things just didn't work out."

Simmons is rated as a three-star prospect by His teammate from West Charlotte, linebacker Britton Grier, remains committed to the Blue Devils.

At S.C. State, Simmons said, he hopes to have an opportunity for immediate playing time.

"It's a family down there, with great coaches," he said, "and I feel like I can do great things."

Ken Tysiac

Pack nudges forward in recruiting rankings

With three commitments since Sunday, N.C. State has climbed out of last place in the ACC in one of the major recruiting rankings.

Tight end Benson Browne’s coach at Walnut Hills (Ohio) High, George Kontsis, confirmed this morning that Browne has committed to the Wolfpack. That moved N.C. State past Wake Forest into 11th place in the ACC in’s rankings for the Class of 2011. has N.C. State at No. 63 overall, one spot ahead of Wake Forest.

The Wolfpack remains last in the ACC in the rankings.

Since Sunday, N.C. State has received commitments from Browne, defensive tackle Chris Jones of Raines High in Jacksonville, Fla., and wide receiver Hakeem Flowers of Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C.

N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien has often said he doesn’t pay much attention to recruiting rankings because he doesn’t believe analysts can predict how a given player will fit into a particular school’s system.

“One thing I’ve learned about Tom O’Brien in his decade at Boston College is, you can’t go based on recruiting rankings or stars next to a kid’s name with O’Brien and his staff,” analyst Mike Farrell said last week.

N.C.State still is ranked far behind rival North Carolina, whose class is rated No. 18 in the nation and No. 3 in the ACC by Duke is rated 10th in the ACC by

Ken Tysiac

O'Brien uses Cincinnati ties to land tight end

Coach Tom O’Brien’s background in Cincinnati has paid off in a commitment from Walnut Hills High tight end Benson Browne.

Walnut Hills coach George Kontsis said O’Brien, offensive coordinator Dana Bible, tight ends coach Jim Bridge and offensive line coach Don Horton all met with Browne at some point.

O’Brien, Bible and Horton all are from Cincinnati.

“That carried a lot of weight,” Kontsis said. “I think it does, and Benson thinks it does."

Browne is 6-foot-6 and 248 pounds and has been a basketball player his whole life. He has played football for just two seasons, but still received 10 scholarship offers, Kontsis said.

Although Browne didn’t catch many passes this season, Kontsis said he has excellent receiving skills.

“He’s about as athletic as you can be,” Kontsis said. “He’ll catch anything.”

Browne, who’s 6-foot-6 and 248 pounds, also considered Louisville and Illinois. Kontsis said Browne was comfortable with N.C. State because of its pro-style offense that features the tight end and because Browne will be the only player at that position in this class.

N.C. State returns two-time All-ACC tight end George Bryan, who will be a senior in 2011, and Kontsis expects Browne to redshirt because he needs more time to learn the game after just two years of experience.

Ken Tysiac

Florida DT chooses N.C. State

N.C. State’s early interest in Chris Jones has paid off with a commitment from the Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines High defensive tackle.

“They came in early and stayed on him through thick and thin,” said Raines coach Deran Wiley, who said Jones also considered North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa State.

That contrasts with the Wolfpack’s success gaining other recruits this month. N.C. State recruited well late in the process to gain commitments from kicker Niklas Sade of Wakefield High, safety Rodman Noel of Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., and wide receiver Hakeem Flowers of Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C.

All three had previously committed – Sade to Nebraska, Noel to Maryland and Flowers to Michigan. Noel and Flowers changed their minds after the coaches at their initial chosen schools were fired.

Jones, the latest recruit, is 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds.

“He’s a big kid, a hard-working kid, a good student of the game,” Wiley said. “. . .He has all the tools.”

Jones is the first commitment in the current N.C. State class from Florida. The Wolfpack still ranks last in the ACC ratings for the Class of 2011 on recruiting sites and

Ken Tysiac

Monday, January 24, 2011

Late push lands Flowers for Pack

Hakeem Flowers, a highly rated wide receiver from Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C., secretly made a commitment to Michigan that never came to fruition.

Flowers held off on his announcement because he wanted to do it in the presence of his teammates at Wade Hampton's banquet Sunday, according to Wade Hampton coach Kent Haltiwanger. But between the time of the pledge to Michigan and the banquet, the Wolverines fired coach Rich Rodriguez.

The new Michigan staff under Brady Hoke couldn't gain traction with Flowers, and N.C. State swooped in late and secured the commitment, which finally was announced at the appointed time, at the banquet Sunday night.

In a telephone interview Monday, Haltiwanger explained what happened. He said three of Rodriguez's assistants from Michigan were hired at Pittsburgh, which came after Flowers hard.

Notre Dame also pushed hard to get Flowers to visit over the weekend. But Flowers visited N.C. State on the weekend of Jan. 15 and developed a good rapport with the Wolfpack's coaches and players.

Last week, N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien visited Flowers at Wade Hampton, meeting with him for an hour, Haltiwanger said.

"They really put the foot on the gas pedal as far as recruiting him," Haltiwanger said.

UCLA, Oregon, Michigan, LSU, N.C. State and Notre Dame were the finalists for Flowers' services. He is 6-foot-3 and about 195 pounds, and ranked the No. 24 player in South Carolina by

He made 41 catches for 986 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, with 31 rushes for 411 yards and four scores.

"He has huge hands, long arms," Haltiwanger said. "He's probably suited to be an outside receiver, but he can play inside as well."
Flowers will give N.C. State a boost as the team's first commitment at a position that lost senior standouts Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis from last season.

Ken Tysiac

Pack gets commitment at key position

N.C. State has received a commitment at a position of vital need in the 2011 class.

Hakeem Flowers, a 6-foot-2, 173-pound wide receiver from Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C., has committed to the Wolfpack, Wade Hampton coach Kent Haltiwanger confirmed.
Flowers is No. 24 overall in the rankings for South Carolina prospects. He joins a team that needs to replenish its talent at wide receiver.
The Wolfpack is losing seniors Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis off the 2010 team. They combined for 138 of N.C. State's 319 receptions and 1,952 of the team's 3,655 receiving yards last season.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Former Maryland commit picks N.C. State

Rodman Noel, a safety from Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., who formerly was committed to Maryland, has committed to N.C. State.

Noel is 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds and intercepted four passes as a postgraduate player for Milford last season, according to the school's web site. Milford coach Bill Chaplick said Noel has great football sense and was one of the best defensive players on a team that finished 11-1.

At times, when Milford's smaller cornerbacks struggled against taller receivers, Noel would move to corner and shut down the big wideouts in pass coverage, Chaplick said.

"He's a physical specimen," Chaplick said. "He should be a great player for [N.C. State]."

Noel had committed to Maryland before the firing of coach Ralph Friedgen. Chaplick said Noel withdrew his commitment after Kevin Lempa, who had been coaching safeties for the Terrapins, was not retained by new head coach Randy Edsall.

Ken Tysiac