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NC State has the depth at receiver to overcome key departures

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Prepare yourselves for the Year of Emezie.

Virginia v North Carolina State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

In many cases, maybe most cases, losing a couple of guys from one position group to the NFL means there will be a noticeable step back for that group the following year. But NC State had a wealth of depth at wide receiver in 2018 and heads into 2019 with an eye toward reloading rather than rebuilding.

Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers will be missed, no doubt, but there is enough on hand for NC State’s receiving corps to be above average once again.

Production Lost

Player/Total GS GP Rec. Rec. Yds Rec. TD
Player/Total GS GP Rec. Rec. Yds Rec. TD
Jakobi Meyers 9 12 92 1047 4
Kelvin Harmon 12 12 81 1186 7
Stephen Louis 1 5 12 154 0
TOT 22 29 185 2387 11

Harmon easily led all NC State receivers in snaps played with 766, and that was despite sitting out the Gator Bowl. He had a rare ability to make great plays that will be impossible to replace. Meyers was great for his reliability and sure handedness and as a security blanket on intermediate routes, you’ll find few better.

Those exceptional attributes made a huge difference last season, but State is poised to succeed in 2019 with a new range of strengths.

Production Returning

Player/Total GS GP Rec. Rec. Yds Rec. TD
Player/Total GS GP Rec. Rec. Yds Rec. TD
Emeka Emezie 12 13 53 616 5
Thayer Thomas 2 13 34 383 3
CJ Riley 1 13 28 315 2
Cary Angeline 4 11 9 169 1
Dylan Autenrieth 8 11 2 27 0
Dylan Parham 0 1 2 11 0
Devin Carter 0 4 1 11 0
TOT 27 66 129 1532 11

Emeka Emezie waited his turn behind Harmon and Meyers and he’ll be rewarded for the patience in 2019. You can bet he’ll be on the field a whole bunch: he actually logged more snaps than Meyers last season and nearly matched Harmon’s totals. So the trust is already there with the coaching staff, and he’ll have every opportunity to put together a 1,000-yard season.

Thayer Thomas will reprise his role as reliable slot target, while CJ Riley will get a chance to be more of a big-play maker. And of course what isn’t reflected in the above table is the addition of Tabari Hines, who should be a mainstay in the pass attack as long as he’s healthy.

In three seasons at Wake Forest, Hines piled up 123 catches, 1,496 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns. In terms of both starts and games played, he’s the most experienced receiver on this team.

At tight end, Cary Angeline began last season on the bench for the first few weeks because he transferred in from USC. He should be more comfortable this year, and being able to play from day one helps.

Overall, NC State boasts a handful of players capable of big-impact performances on any given week, and with the exception of Hines, all of them played a substantial number of snaps in a Wolfpack uniform in 2018. Maybe the obvious matchup advantages aren’t there on paper—not yet—but this group has the prerequisites to be a strength of the offense once again.