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NC State Football Recruiting

FOOTBALL RECRUITING TALK: Miss The Episode? Here's The Transcript

July 1, 2021

It’s been a busy month for NC State football on the recruiting trail. Earlier this month, James and Ethan took a look at the Pack’s first four commitments to the 2022 class in Nick Campbell, MJ Morris, Daejuan Thompson and Torren Wright. 

This time around, James, Ethan and Steve broke down the Pack’s last five commitments. Here’s a full breakdown of that conversation. 

James: Steve, you were not on the last podcast we did where we talked about those first four commitments in MJ Morris, Nick Campbell, Daejuan Thompson and Torren Wright, and I kind of want to ask you, of those four guys, who really intrigued you the most? 

Steve: Probably Nick Campbell, and just watching a lot of his film. You know, I know that the NC State coaching staff really likes his upside. I think physically, he's a perfect match for what they want with that three technique. And they're in their defense. I think that physically he's still he's got some room to grow. But he moves well. I think off the field, he was definitely a fit culturally to what they're trying to build their program around. And he's just a guy, I don't know that we’ll see him do a whole lot early on. I think he's a guy that'll probably need a little bit of time to develop physically but down the road, I really feel like he's a guy that could be a big contributor on the defense.

James: I know when we go out to camp, you spend a lot of time every day, regardless of if they're named quarterbacks or not, watching the quarterbacks. And so I wanted to ask you about MJ Morris, you had a chance to see him at camp we didn't know going in,  I don't think that he definitively was going to camp. I think we thought it might have just been an unofficial visit weekend for him.. But he did camp; he did work out, you were able to watch some of his highlight tape, you know about his pedigree. Just what are your general thoughts on him?

Steve: You know, the fact that he did camp kind of impressed me. I mean, he had no reason to go out there and work. You already had committed, you've got the offer from State and just the fact that he was he wanted to go out there and work with coach [Tim Beck]. You try to improve, get some coaching from coach Beck, that really impressed me. And I think it goes to kind of his mindset and you've talked to him, as well as I have. 

He's just a great kid. He's a guy that's going to just soak the knowledge up watching him throw. I think there's some things that I liked, I think there's some things that he's going to need to work on. I think first and foremost, the thing that State likes is that he's going to bring that dynamic athleticism to the quarterback position, then I think coach Beck really, really wants in his offense, and I don't know that he necessarily has it now. But I think they believe MJ Morris is the guy that can bring that to their offense where he's just as much a threat to beat you with his legs as he is with his arm. 

I think throwing the football, there's some mechanical issues that he has that I think coach Beck will work on. We saw some of those similar kinds of issues with Devin Leary, when he first got to NC State. We talked about that when Devin first got to State and and over time you look at Devin now and he's got one of them, you know just a perfect delivery. So I think it's something that coach Beck can focus on, I think throwing the football. Right now to me, MJ’s strength is kind of that deep fade pass. I think his down the field touch is really, really good. I think probably the biggest issue will be to make his delivery more compact to make it quicker and then just the normal maturation that you need to kind of grow into that quarterback spot.

James: Yeah, I'm with you. I think upside’s obviously the key word with him in my opinion, I think he's a guy who has a lot of potential and I believe if you're NC State, given where you're at at the quarterback position, you probably want to swing for the fences and and try and bring in a high upside type guy. And I think you mentioned that he's a little different than what they have currently in the room. I think that's a good thing. And so, really interested to see how he develops and I think he's a guy that has a chance to obviously push for competing at an early age depending on how long Devin Leary is in town and all those things and, and I did want to ask you before we moved on from those four guys. NC State did land two in-state linebackers, Daejuan Thompson and Torren Wright. How important did you think it was for NC State to land those two commitments at that position given what NC State has currently on the roster?

Steve: I think it just shows how important the linebacker position has become to NC State's defense, their scheme and what they want to accomplish. You know, there were years where we kind of beat the drums about ‘Hey, why aren't we recruiting linebackers?’ And t's really changed over the last couple of years. You see them really prioritizing that position, you have to say the thing that's really stuck out to me so far with this class, State’s sitting at 10 commitments, they've gotten everybody they wanted to get. And nobody's saying these guys are all gonna turn out to be NFL prospects, but at the end of the day if you're getting the guys that you want, what else can you ask for? 

None of these guys were plan B's, every one of these guys were players that State, identified either early or maybe in the case of Thompson came along a little bit later, but just guys that they had prioritized and really wanted. And fortunately, they've been able to land all of them. I think, in the case of Thompson and Wright, both, really a good situation in that just looking at State's depth right now, you're not going to need these guys to come in and play immediately. You're, good. You brought in a couple of really good players last year and all the reports on [Caden Fordham] and [Jordan Poole] have been really good. So it's kind of a best case scenario, you get these guys, you can bring them in, you don't have to rush them onto the field. They've got time to learn. And I think both bring a lot of upside to the position. I'm excited about not only the linebacker spot, but really just kind of how this whole class is coming together.

James: Ethan, a week after those four kids committed NC State landed their next verbal from Jackson Vick, a cornerback out of Southern Nash High School. And I think he's a player, all three of us probably would have projected NC State to land in this class, give his pedigree, y how often he'd been around the program, ust various things. And I'm wondering with you, what is your take on Vick? I mean, we'll see a player who you really wanted to see in this class.

Ethan: Yeah, I think I think he's another upside play. I think State has had quite a few of those in this class. And I think he’s different from Isaiah Crowell. And that way, although, you know, they kind of project to different positions. But I think with Vick, the thing you like is the athleticism that he brings. And he’s a running back right now. So you know he's a football player, and is going to be able to play and that playing different positions in high school, and transitioning to college obviously might take you a little longer. But it leads to more upside. And obviously, he's playing running back. And that shows the athleticism and how his team views him. And obviously, it won't be quite the same on the college level. But yeah, I think you know, anytime you pursue a guy as long as NC State pursued Jackson Vick, you kind of know how they value him. And there was never really anybody else on the cornerback board. It was pretty much Vick the whole way. And I think you're right, it was pretty easy to project him to NC State and State got it done without really, I mean, I'm sure he considered other schools but it didn't seem like he was ever in danger of not picking State.

James: Steve, you saw Vick at a camp or combine earlier this spring, you also had a chance to see him as an unofficial visitor out at NC State's camp this fall. What did you think of him at the combine when you saw him work out? And also what did you think of his personality when you had a chance to interact with him? 

Steve: Man, I loved him. And it's funny, because when we saw him at that camp, he got beat numerous times. You know, we've joked about it. When he was in one on ones he he got beat several times. And afterwards, me and Jackson talked about it and kind of laughed about it. I gotta tell you out of the 10 commitments right now, he's probably the guy I'm most excited about. I think he's, to me, easily the most athletic guy out of that whole group. 

You know, we posted a video of him, he can literally jump out of the gym, I think he's got like a 38-inch vertical. Physically, the kid is off the charts. Just quickness, his ability to make up ground the way he can run. And I knew going into that cam that he probably was going to struggle because he's been playing running back full time for a year, he hasn't been playing defensive back. And you know, when you go down to a place like Under Armour, you're not just playing, you're not just going up against dudes. I mean, you're talking about some of the best players in the country. So I assumed that he was going to struggle, and he did. But I think once he gets into the program, he becomes a full-time defensive back with his physical ability. 

I think he's got the potential to be a really, really special cornerback down the road, personality wise. And we've seen this across the board with just about all these kids that we talk to and Jackson's exactly the same, very humble guy. ‘Yes, sir, no, sir,’ very respectful. Team first guy, not into, you know, a lot of the social media Look at me type stuff and and again just kind of just a fit, you know, culturally and then and then physically I really think he's got some bright days ahead.

James: Ethan, another player in this class whoI would say he competes with Vick for being the most athletic player in this is Michael Allen. Here's a player who ran a sub 4.5 40 at the Nike camp last last November. Prototypical size, I mean he measured in at that time at 5-9, 203 pounds. So physically, he's kind of what you're looking for at the running back position, short, stocky, compact. And I think all three of us agree, I thought running back was the most important position in this class. And so for you, is that the case? And what are your thoughts on landing Allen?

Ethan: Yeah, it was the case. You haven't lost them yet, but I think you have to be prepared to lose Bam Knight, and Ricky Person after this year. And I think I believe the three of us did a podcast a little while back. And we've compared Michael Allen and Omari Hampton, and we spent quite a bit of time on it. I can't remember what you guys said. I said I liked Allen better. And it's because of the verified athleticism. And obviously that hasn't changed. And so I think the concerns with Allen seemed like State kind of emerged a little later in his recruitment, then you would have expected kind of like MJ Morris, I think maybe some of that had to do with the baseball aspect of it. 

But yeah, the athleticism, I think he compares favorably to Nyheim Hines in that regard. I think, you know, he's the type of guy who you could maybe move to slot like Nyheim Hines did for two years. I don't think that will happen, but I think it could. And so yeah, I think you have to feel really good. He had a bunch of offers,  maybe the best offer list in the class, although MJ Morris is probably right there as well. And obviously, you guys know, I'm a stars guy, and he's going to end up being the highest-rated kid in the class. So, you watch the film, passes the test the athleticism passes the test, the offers the rankings, all of it. And then obviously, like you said, the need for a running back in this class was probably the biggest on the roster.

James: Steve, did you feel that way about the running back position? And I want to ask you to give a different take on Allen. Do you have any concern with him coming into this class? 

Steve: First of all, I agree wholeheartedly that running back clearly was the biggest need in this class. And I think from the coach's point of view, we kind of know how this is going. It's almost a one-for-one trade right now, where if you take two running backs, you're basically saying we're going to lose two running backs. So we're kind of in that position that if State ultimately does take Bennett Galloway, then basically the coaches are basically saying, ‘We're going to lose two running backs,’ and you assume that it's probably going to be Knight and Person. 

So you know, when you lose that kind of production, that's huge. You've got to get talent to replace that. And you're not going to replace it overnight. But you've got to get guys that you hope that with time can become those kinds of producers in your offense. I think with me, I'm probably going to get into trouble. But I have to be honest, Michael Allen reminds me a lot of MJ Morris. To me, those two guys are in a similar boat. Both had really, really good sophomore years. And then had subpar junior years, and subsequently, you know, early on, they're both holding 30-40 offers. By the time they got ready to commit those committable offers had been whittled down to very few. And I think some of that was based on their lack of production as juniors. And in both cases, I think both were affected by injury, probably Allen more so than Morris. So although I don't think Morris was anywhere near 100% when he played as a junior. 

But even when he wasn't hurt, I'm not 100% convinced that Allen made big strides from his sophomore year to his junior year. So for me, I'm excited about getting him. I love the speed. I think he has good size. But I think in the big scheme of things for me, the jury's still out. I think I just need to see more and that's why I'm really excited to see Allen in his senior season fully healthy, fully focused on football and see if we see him make that jump. And I know you're like me. You know he's one of the guys I can't wait to go see in the fall. 

Ethan: How much did Allen actually play? I thought he missed the majority of the year.

Steve: I want to say eight games, he played the first two full games. And then I think the third game, he may have played part of the third game. And I think that was it.

James: Yeah, and look, to be honest, I think you bring up a really good point and something that we need to talk about this 2022 class commitments or targets, I think it's going to be hard to evaluate. There's so many starts and stops to this class with the COVID deal. Last year, you essentially missed what would have been their real ‘camp season.’ You didn't even have that. And so a lot of these kids, you haven't seen. And you and you mentioned it, how do they progress from sophomores, to juniors? 

I'll give you an another example, which I'm sure both of you are familiar with in Xavier Simmons. He's a guy two months ago, I think all three of us would think NC State would have loved to have in their class. And Steve, I guess you can confirm this or not, but I'm fairly certain. I don't think he was a take at the end when he made his decision. And that was a product of ,I think, maybe State getting to see more of him, getting to evaluate him in person physically. I mean, a lot of these kids in this 2022 class, June was the first time they've been on college campuses, for schools that actually put eyes on them. And then you fast forward to what six months later, they're going to be signing letters of intent? I think it's a risky class. I really do. I think it's a class that’s going to be hard to evaluate. You bring up a good point, some players, you're going to really want to see how their senior year plays out. And see was the down year in as a junior a fluke. Was it more of what you see? Was it due to injury? I think it's a valid point.

Steve: I want to clarify, I'm not saying that Alan is bad or good. My argument is, like I said, the jury's still out. I need to see more. And that's why I'm looking forward to now. Obviously, from the NC State coaching staff's perspective, they don't need to see anything. He was their guy, him and Hampton were their guys from day one, and they made him a priority. And so obviously, they're sold on him. But just based on the body of work, and clearly they've got access to more info than we have. But based on the body of work that from our perspective, we have to go off of,, I just want to see a little bit more and, and that's why I think the fall is going to be huge for Allen.

James: Yeah, I'm looking at his numbers now. As a sophomore, he played 11 games, averaged 8 yards per carry, had 19 touchdowns. And then this past year, he only played in two games, as a junior, had 21 carries for 235 yards. So he averaged 11.2 yards per carry. 

What you're saying is it’s more injury related, you know, he only played two games. And so I think where that becomes a problem is we're talking about a kid who you're going to be signing in December, potentially. And I think we all assume there's going to be a season this year. And so obviously he'll play as a senior, but as of right now,this guy's played two games in essentially 18 months. So I think that's where the concern is with me for sure on Allen 

Ethan, I know, I want to keep moving and look at some of these other guys. We've talked a lot about Allen already, we talked about Morris. I'm wondering though, when you look at this class as a whole and you see the positions that have been filled, is there a position that you think NC State needs to target right now?

Ethan: I think the top remaining target I think we probably agree is Wesley Grimes, you know, a receiver but for me, I think it's offensive line just for numbers. I mean, you can’t afford to not take an offensive lineman. You can afford to not take a receiver especially when State’s taken like eight in the past couple years And so I think they can afford to not take a receiver if they miss on Grimes. They’ve got to find some offensive lineman somewhere. Obviously they'll certainly dip into the transfer market. But I still think you'd like to pick up a high school prospect or two. And right now Isaiah Montgomery actually committed to Pitt earlier today, and so he's off the board. He's the only guy Steve's got on the watch list. So that tells me there's nobody really there. And I think, to me, that's the biggest red flag right now.

James: Steve, State has several offensive linemen into camp who had offers and/or they offered, and some of the guys, I don't think it kind of goes back to what you're talking about a minute ago. You watched Isaiah Montgomery. You watched Nick Williams, the final day of Camp who came to camp claiming an NC State offer. What do you think? 

Steve: [Williams] probably should have stayed at home that day. 

James:  But personally I wasn't blown away by Montgomery. I spent a lot of time at camp watching the O-Line and D-Line… But in all seriousness, I wasn't thoroughly impressed with Montgomery. So I'm wondering, Steve, are you surprised that he picked Pitt?

Steve: No, not at all. I'm telling you, some of these kids, I think they're their own worst enemy, as long as they didn't come to camp, and as long as they didn't show up on campus, they had offers. And as soon as they started showing up, a lot of those offers vanished. And again, and we've been saying this, and I made a point on the last day of May, before June started, that when these kids started showing up, a lot of these recruiting stories were going to get turned upside down. Whereas guys that were really prominent on the board would fall off the board. And guys that you have never heard of before like a Bennett Galloway are going to pop up, because there was such a small body of work for the coaches to go off of. 

And it's been really interesting to me that for the most part, this class, at each position group has been cut and dry. At linebacker, defensive line, corner, safety nickel, wide receiver, quarterback, running back,  all of those positions have been cut and dry as far as who we've been trying to get. You know who the main guys are. The one that's just a mess is the offensive line. And it's been a mess from the beginning. And it's never been a clear cut board. There's been names that come and go, but you're never really sure. And then you see them and they don't look good. And so that that whole position has just been a mess on the recruiting side. And I'll be honest with you, I don't blame anybody because you know, and I know we've always said offensive line is the hardest position to figure out. 

And so that position, probably more than any other, when you don't have a chance to see those guys in person, you don't have a chance to see them work out, it's a whole different ball game when you get them in front of you running around and then all of a sudden, you know, this guy doesn't look like he looked on his YouTube video. And so I think there's a lot for State to figure out on the offensive line. I agree with Ethan. I think that is definitely something where State could look to the portal to fill a spot. Offensive tackle is such a huge need. 

On the recruiting side, you've got one or two guys. Andre Roye, Cason Henry just fell off the board. Montgomery just fell off the board. So you've got, maybe Andre Roye, that’s about it. 

Ethan: Who's the kid up in Pittsburgh? 

Steve: At Lackawanna. He was supposed to have visited a couple weeks ago, but he got the Penn State offer and so that was pretty much the end of that. There’s one other kid that visited and his name slips my mind right now. He's the son of the Pittsburgh Steeler offensive line coach. Yeah. Jalen Klemm or something like that. And he's picked up a bunch of offers. He could be a guy to watch down the road. So, we think State would probably like to take at a minimum two more offensive lineman, and just having two names on the board, you've got to get more names than that. But again, from here until the new season starts, you're kind of limited on seeing kids. So you know, it's gonna be tough to manufacture new names. So, you know, I assume that the fall is gonna be pretty important if State wants to go the high school route in filling those last two spots.

James: Steve, I want to ask you about something else you just mentioned, you talk about how the board has been fairly cut and dry in terms of targets. And I hadn't even noticed that until you mentioned it. And I'm wondering, do you think part of that is a byproduct of the portal, essentially, meaning State’s almost treating it as high school classes saying get certain positions, we've got x we want. And if we don't get him, we can move on. Or we can hold off and wait and try and find somebody in the portal. All three of us know, there's not a ton of available scholarships right now anyways, so I'm wondering if they're just kind of shooting for the fences or swinging for the fences for a couple of guys at certain positions. And if you don't get them, maybe you just see them hold off. Now they did feel a lot of these, but you take wide receiver for instance, I just really wonder how they handled that if they did miss on Wesley Grimes, so I’m interested to get your take on that.

Steve: I don't know. And, you know, I think we talked about this out at camp how, you know, when previously there was a lot of talk about how the majority of this class will be portal guys and I never bought into that. I just had a feeling that when State identified high school guys that they liked, and those kids reciprocated the interest that in the end, it would be kind of a normal class. 

And I think now, and we've seen it the linebacker spot especially, I think that's definitely a spot that they could look to the portal just because they're in really good shape. And I think from their standpoint, they’d like to bring in a guy that’s more experienced to balance out just the age groups across the position. I can also see them doing along the offensive line. 

To be honest with you, maybe the position that makes the most sense for me to go portal would be the wide receiver spot because you stand to lose a bunch of dude safter this season. And for me, I almost prefer to have a guy that's a little bit older, that’s got some experience. I know there's a kid I want to say there was a  kid from Texas that was really productive last year that went in the portal and I immediately thought this may be a guy that State may try to take a look at. So again, just in a nutshell I think there's going to be specific opportunities where State may go portal if the right kid comes along.

James: Ethan Isaiah Crowell, a name obviously that’s been on NC State's radar for a while now. Brother of NC State four-star 2020 commitment Micah Crowell. He had an offer, he came and camped. NC State's firmed up that offer, he ends up picking the Wolfpack, you've had a chance to watch his film. Or I assume you are not really surprised that Isaiah Cowell ended up in this class.

Ethan: No. Was it you he made the comment to or I think it was Micah who made the comment that they wanted to or were going to play together in college. And so really since then, you kind of just, I personally viewed it as a foregone conclusion. I don't know that it was quite that simple. But yeah, we certainly expected him to pick NC State. It seemed like he flirted around with quite a few other schools in the winter and spring but at the end of the day, I think State was obviously able to, to get him on campus, camp.. And I thin, you mentioned it with Morris, when you get guys like that, who have offers, and even more so the four stars, you don’t see many four-star guys going into their senior year at camp, I don't know that you ever see it really. And obviously Crowell is not that highly rated but still is a guy with a firm offer. And maybe the coaches asked him to camp. I'm not sure if you guys know that but it certainly makes the coaches feel a lot better about taking somebody in such a small class. 

And I have watched his film. I think he projects well as a nickel. I don't think there's a whole lot to really go off of. He plays the run game well, which is not always a given a the high school level, and I think that matters a lot. And I think that’s kind of why you see him projected at nickel.

James: Steve give us some insight on that. Why did he camp at NC State.

Steve: I went back and looked at Crowell’s junior film. If  you watch his highlight tape, there were only, it was either two or three clips with him out in pass coverage. Everything else was in run support. And, you know, the coaching staff, that's all they have to go on as well, they didn't have the opportunity to go to a gam and watch. And of course, they can get whole games to watch. They don't just have to go off a hudl highlights. But I think from their point of view, they had some questions about ‘Okay, we know you're really good in run support, we know that you’re physical, you don't mind hitting, we need to know, can you cover somebody out in space. We need to see your work out in space.’ 

And I think Crowell camping was a result of that he needed to come out and show the coaches that he could get out in space one on one, and show that he could rotate his hips and run with kids. And to his credit, that's exactly what he did. I mean, he left no doubt after his workout that State liked what they saw, and that more or less kind of solidified the offer. And then, you know, that's why he ended up committing just a few days later. 

You know, I disagree with Ethan a little bit because I think Ethan may have been more confident in Isaiah choosing NC State than I was. Because I went back to Micah, and you know, everybody early on, had Micah as a foregone conclusion to go to Virginia. And he chose NC State instead. And I wondered if it could be a similar thing with Isaiah, where everybody just kind of had him pigeon holed into NC State. And, you know, he would decide that I want to do my own thing. And so it was a while there, I really wasn't sure. But once I found out he was going to camp for the NC State coaches, you could pretty much put two and two together at that point. And of course, he committed about a week later.

James: Yeah, it's interesting with him, because it felt like his offer list was more high profile prior to Micah’s decision, which I thought was interesting. And I've been talking with Bryant Carson a lot about this. I really wonder if a lot of these regional programs that were on him at the time just pretty much said, ‘Well, he's going to NC State now.’ Is there really a point if you're Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech to invest energy and effort into recruiting a player in that situation? I really wondered about that sometimes. So you bring up a good point there with the Micah situation and how that might have impacted his recruitment. One player I know you seem very high on is Darius Edmundson, a safety out of Louisburg Junior College, still some kind of gray area there in terms of what his eligibility is going to be if it'll be three years or four years. We're still trying to clear that up, I believe, but I know you've had a chance to talk with him. And we saw him out at camp as well and I think his highlight tape is really good. He’s another high-end athlete they added in the defensive backfield.

Steve: I think whatever he brings to NC State will be dependent on what he does this year. If he chooses to play at Louisburg this upcoming season, he'll be a three for three. He's kind of entertained the thought of just sitting out so he could be a four foot four. Although he told me you know, coach [Joe DeForest] said, ‘Hey, go play, no reason to sit out, go play. And you'll be here soon enough.’ So I think that's kind of the way he’s leaning is to play. So my guess is that, you know, most likely he'll be a three for three when he gets to NC State. 

He spent a lot of time with coach DeForest one on one out at camp. He was a guy that had been on the radar previously. I love his film. I just think he’s really athletic, really fast. Super, super quick guy. I think he timed at 4.62 out of State’s camp. And that was with a quad strain. He was nowhere near 100% that day that he worked out at camp. So I really love the upside. I will say I think he's a guy a little bit similar to Allen and Morris that I kind of want to see more of him, I guess maybe because I didn't get to see him at 100%. Although clearly he did enough to impress the NC State coaches because they offered him just a few days after his workout. So clearly they feel really good about him. 

But I think for me, I'm kind of anxious to see him play this fall and just see what kind of impact he has on the field. But I think, again, you bring that speed, you're adding three really good, three really quick defensive backs into your backfield. And I think there's enough depth there that you don't need those guys to perform when we say that, but we're able to say that every year and then they end up having to play because 23 people get injured. But if it's a normal year, they'll have time to learn. So I think there’s a lot of upside with that group just as a whole. 

James: And Ethan, that's kind of what I wanted to ask you about relative Edmundson, him being a junior college player, would you have thought NC State would bring in a junior a Juco DB, because it feels like to me, that's one of their deeper positions just across the board is the defensive back position. So I'm kind of surprised they decided to bring in a junior college defensive back. 

Ethan: If he has four years of eligibility, yeah, I mean, does it matter? I guess you can't redshirt him. But even three years of eligibility, I don't think you really worry about the eligibility with the portal right now. You know, if a guy's not going be good enough to play, he's probably going to move on. And if he's good, you've got them for three years. And you figure out the rest later. So I would be more focused on getting good players and worry about eligibility later. And I watched Edmundson’s film quickly. I thought it was really good. I don't think I've ever seen so many pick sixes on one hudl highlight reel. But what did you get? What do you guys think of him out at camp? How would you compare him to Crowell? 

Steve: I don't know. For me, it was hard to say because I don't think he was 100%. And, you know, he moved fairly well, and I think he had all the basics down as far as being able to turn his hips and run but but to be honest, I never saw him do one on ones and I think he may have shut the workout down before we ever even got to one on one.

James: He did because I was in when I was in the indoor with, I think it was the Clarkson kid was doing his workout, Piers Clarkson. And they brought in Edmundson with DeForest. They came into the indoor and were talking to Dave and I think that's when Dave kind of talked about, potentially an offer, but at that point, this is with camp still going on, he had his hamstring wrapped with ice. So yeah, he was done. And I didn't get to see him. I saw him run his 40. But I'm right there with Ethan and I thought his high school tape was really good. If you watch his workout stuff he put up, I think that's probably a lot of what sold State on him. If you go to his Twitter account, he's got a lot of individual workout stuff where you see him going through drills. And I don't know, I'm not a DBs coach. I don't know specifically what they're looking for in those drills. But maybe they saw a lot of that already from him and just brought him in and checked him out physically. They were familiar with him. Steve, I think you mentioned he was a guy State looked at a little bit out of 2019, he's a former high school teammate of Zonovan Knight. We didn't talk about that, another Southern Nash kid. I think he played with Jackson Vick as well for a year so they were already familiar with him. I wonder if that just plugged all that played a role in it with Edmundson?

Steve: Yeah, I do. I think it was just kind of the sum total of film having a chance to see him work out to some degree out at camp and then familiarity with him from Southern Nash. And then if you talk to him again, he just fits that mold. Just a really humble super kid. And it sounds like a broken record, but you just kind of see it over and over with these kids that NC State is signing.

James: Steve, I want to ask you about Brandon Cleveland, defensive tackle prospect out of Tampa, Florida committed to NC State after visiting I believe Cal and Virginia. He kind of fits a lot of what you talked about with Michael Allen and MJ Morris. You know, Cleveland was originally committed to Miami, what I've read up on him apparently, him and Miami parted ways because he decided to take visits. That's what I'd read so he opened up his recruitment again back in I think it was March, made multiple visits, picked NC State I really liked this tape. I think he's another one of those jumbo athletes they're bringing in that could be a D- end, maybe grows into a D-tackle your thoughts on Cleveland and how you feel he pairs up with Campbell.

Steve: I think you just nailed it. I mean, I think you could put Campbell on one side, you could put Cleveland on the other. I think they complement each other perfectly. I think if you saw Cleveland, if you're familiar with CJ Clark, you kind of get the same guy. I think Cleveland's maybe a little bit more disruptive off the edge than Campbell. It's funny because I'm sitting here watching Cleveland's film as we're talking. And I think it's a little bit more disruptive off the edge, but I think they're both very similar type guys, 6-3, 260, kind of fit that physical mold that coach Doeren likes in his ends. 

And again, you know, State’s in a good spot with depth. I don't think you’re going to need these guys to come in and play from day one. But I think physically, they're both probably a little bit ahead of what you normally get. And I think football wise, they're probably a little bit ahead of maybe some of the other guys State’s got. S coach [Charley Wiles] has got to be feeling good, because he’s knocked it out of the park. He’s got two of three spots filled. He filled them with two guys he had prioritized from day one, you know, one spot to go. And obviously, DJ Jackson is the guy that they want to fill that spot. And if I get him, man, I mean, you got the three that you wanted. 

James: Ethan, I know you’ll tell anybody, you’re the resident stars guy. So Brandon Cleveland being a four-star prospect on Rivals and ESPN, you have to be thrilled about landing a guy with the pedigree of Cleveland. 

Ethan: Yeah, and I think the one concern for me was the size. I was interested to know why he had decommitted from Miami, so that was good to know, mutual parting of ways. 

Steve: I think they got a new defensive line coach as well. I think they went in another direction as far as what they were looking for in the spot that Cleveland was holding. It would be similar to NC State under Chuck Amato, you put a Manny Lawson at defensive end, but Dave Doeren would never do that. So I think it was just a difference in what they were looking for to fill that defensive line spot. 

Ethan: That makes sense, and anytime you hear a kid decommitted, you always kind of want to know why. I’m sure State knew. I haven’t watched his film yet, to be honest, so I haven’t gotten to it yet. But anytime you can get a guy, especially from Florida, I think you said he’s from Tampa, so not south Florida, but with that pedigree, another guy who’s early, got the stars early, you never know how those guys are going to shape out. State typically doesn’t recruit those guys heavily so I’m interested that they got Morris and Cleveland. Honestly, Wright may fit in there too. So it’s kind of an interesting shift in strategy, I think, from State this year. But obviously we know they’re not looking at what Barton Simmons thinks of a kid in deciding whether or not they’re going to offer, so I think you feel good and like Steve said, he was clearly a target once he decommitted from Miami. I remember at the time seeing the interest, I thought it was a little far fetched. But they stuck it out and survived an official visit to Virginia last week, and they were able to get him, and I think like Steve said, now the attention turns to DJ Jackson. I think the question, for me, is if you were to land Jackson, did you take three defensive ends or does one of these guys profile as a nose? 

Steve: Jackson is a nose, but the other two, at least coming in, will project as ends. But Jackson’s definitely a nose. 

James: I want to ask each of you, and I’ll let Steve go first, I was just looking at your watch list. Anyone who follows the watch list, they know that’s not really necessarily your pecking order for who you would like to see NC State land, it’s kind of just information on who you believe could be next to pick NC State. So I want to ask you, who would you like to see NC State land next? 

Steve: Of the ones that remain, it would be Davin Jackson, and it wouldn’t even be close. Just mainly because I want to take a South Carolina kid away from South Carolina. 

Ethan: You like Jackson that much more than Grimes?

Steve: I kind of go back to what you said. I just don’t know if receiver is that monster of a need. For me, nose tackle is always a huge need. If you’re got a guy at that spot that you really, really like, and I think once State saw the writing on the wall with Curtis Neal, they went all in on Davin Jackson, if you’ve got you really like that fits what you’re looking to fill, those guys just don’t come around often. I think finding a wide receiver is much easier than finding a nose tackle that’s productive. So I guess from that standpoint is kind of why he’s my main guy. 

Ethan: That makes a lot of sense. It’s Wesley Grimes for me. I think you look at the three guys, Wesley Grimes, Noah Rogers and Lex Thomas, obviously Thomas and Rogers are in the next class, but those guys seem really tight. They visited State once together and I don’t think State’s been able to get Grimes back. But I think he’s really good. I think he’s the best receiver on the board. The film is very good. I don’t know of any verified athleticism numbers, but he reminds me a lot of Kelvin Harmon, and I was a big Kelvin Harmon guy, I think he’s in that kind of mold, Emeka Emezie is in it as well. Just big guys who are just going to win jump balls day after day. I think he’s really good. 

The other guy I think that’s interesting to me is Bennett Galloway. I think State will get him if they so choose. I loved his numbers out of camp. You watch his film, he’s really good. I think he’s got some development to do as a running back, but like I’ve talked about, that athleticism that he brings to the table, I believe he was under a 4.5 at State’s camp. Was he the one who had the really good shuttle as well? 

So that’s what I’m looking for. I think the question is will State take him. Obviously they offered before Michael Allen technically committed, but had Michael Allen already told the coaches he was coming? I think that’s a fair question. I think they offered Galloway because they really like him and they want to take him, but I guess the question if if you’re planning on losing Knight and Person, would you rather take a transfer over Galloway? And if not, would you take Allen, Galloway and a transfer? So I think that’s kind of the debate. He’s the most fascinating guy on the list for me, but as far as guys I want the most, it’s definitely Grimes. 

James: Editor’s note: Joe Brown committed to Virginia after this podcast was recorded.

Grimes to me, I have a little bit of concern with him personally. I’m sure I’m in the minority with this. I don’t know how great of an athlete he is, so honestly I’m a little surprised that State has prioritized him so heavily, passing up the opportunity to bring in a kid like Jaden Watkins for an official visit, really they’ve kind of zeroed in on. There’s some other reasons you could pursue Grimes as well. And I’m not saying that to mean he’s not talented, it’s just my personal preference. When I looked at his camp numbers that we had at camp, he just didn’t blow me away athletically. But again, that’s me. Obviously he was really good out at camp. 

The guy I would pick is Joe Brown. And Steve, you may be able to tell me, maybe State’s already out of it with him. But the offensive lineman out of Utah, we talked about where NC State’s at right now with their offensive line board. And I know in talking to you and Bryant, it seemed like Joe Brown really impressed you two guys out at camp. He came to NC State from Utah, earned an offer. He’s likely going to be a two year and out guy, a guy who’s going to go do his mission for two years. So you’re going to be get him back, if you get him, essentially as a 20-21-year-old freshman, so he’s maybe going to be more mature because of that. 

And just given where NC State’s at right now in terms of the offensive line, very few kids came into NC State’s camp this summer on the offensive line and impressed. And he was one of them, ended up getting an offer from BYU, from Virginia. And again, like I said, you know more than me Steve on if NC State’s really a viable option for him, but just in terms of the guys who recently picked up offers and I think, stood out, I would go with Brown. 

Steve: I don’t have him on the watch list because technically he’s a ‘24 kid now. He’ll be a 2024, so that’s why we don’t have him on our 2022 watch list. But I do agree with you. I thought he was the best offensive lineman of any class that we watched out at camp. To me, I don’t know that it was even really close. I thought he was really, really good. I also agree with you in that if he was going to be a part of this class, I would be right there with you. 

Just because he was that good, I would be right there with you that he would be one of the main guys that I would be wanting to add into this class. As it stands, I think State probably had a chance until BYU offered, but it’s Mormon guy, I just can’t imagine that he would choose to come to NC State, even though his brother does live in Apex, so there’s a connection there. It’s just hard for me to fathom Joe Brown turning down BYU to come to NC State. Could it happen? Sure. But I think anybody, being realistic, would say the odds are against it. 

James: Who do you think is next to commit? 

Steve: It has to be Galloway. I think he was supposed to hit a couple camps. I know Air Force offered him today, which we’re talking on Monday. Air Force offered him today. I think he’s going to hit a couple more camps. I think Virginia Tech’s already got a running back commitment, but knowing Virginia Tech, maybe they take another guy, but I would have to say it’s Galloway. We’ve got him No. 1 on the watch list, and my guess is that we probably, assuming nothing changes from NC State’s perspective, that we may hear something on him either this weekend or maybe early next week. 

Ethan: I think Galloway is kind of the easy answer. It’s weird. It’s a short watch list. It’s June 28 and there’s six guys on it. One of them committed to Pitt today, so there’s really only five guys. I don’t know that Vincent Anthony or Jaden Watkins are takes, I guess the question with Anthony is did Cleveland steal his spot and with Watkins it’s is it too late to circle back if Wesley Grimes doesn’t pick State. 

Steve: Watkins is committing in four days, so unless State makes up a lot of ground, probably not. So you’re pretty much looking at three guys right now: Galloway, Jackson and Grimes. That’s pretty much it. 

James: So Steve you’ve basically got Anthony off the board as well right now? 

Steve: I just don’t see him as a take right now. With Cleveland committing, I know Cleveland and Anthony were both kind of pegged in for that same spot. Going into the visit, I may have shared it on the board, but the thinking was State was not going to do any in-state official visits, and from what I heard there was a lot of back-and-forth discussion about the pros and cons of having that philosophy. But I think from their stand point, they were thinking ‘Hey, these kids haven’t been anywhere in over a year. It’s going to be easy to get them on campus in June. We don’t need to burn an official visit to get them on campus when they’re probably going to come anyway. Because they haven’t been on any visits. 

So they pretty much limited their official visits to out-of-state kids, and only the ones they thought would commit when they came on their visits. So going in, they expected that Campbell and Cleveland were going to commit. The thing with Cleveland was it started to get a little fuzzy, because he kind of threw a curve ball right at the very end where he said ‘I’m also going to officially visit Cal and Virginia.’ He ultimately backed out of the Cal visit but stuck with the Virginia visit. I think it just cast enough doubt on it that when State saw Anthony, they kind of hedged their bets and said ‘OK, here’s another guy that we like and if we don’t get Cleveland or Anthony decides to commit first, that’s who we’ll take.’ So it just worked out that Cleveland committed first, so I guess that’s just a long-winded way to say that I think Cleveland probably filled that spot for State. 

But we’ve seen it before. They can change their minds. It happens all the time. But I think as of today, there won’t be a spot for him.

Ethan: Do you think the board expands at all or is it just these three guys until the high school season starts? Or is this just it for the year? 

Steve: I think there’s some guys that I could actually add to the watch list now, like the Kremm guy that we talked about. I think there’s a couple guys I could add. But personally, I don’t like to add them until I talk to them and really get a feel for where they’re leaning, because I really try to limit it just to guys that I think State has a legitimate chance to land. So it’s kind of hard, I really like to talk to them first before I put on there. But I do think there’s two or three guys that I could probably add to the list that I just haven’t put on there yet. 


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