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Getting to Know the #Pack16 Targets - Part 3

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Which defensive linemen and linebackers are on the #Pack16 big board?

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

Commits

Kobe Smith 3 Star / 6’3 315 / Archer, Lawrenceville, Georgia

Smith became the first defensive lineman to join the 2016 class back in December, but he stated that he would still be examining his options despite his pledge. He has received numerous offers since then, including Arkansas, UNC, and others, but remained committed to the Pack. His in-state schools, Georgia and Georgia Tech, are among the top competitors for the three star’s services. It’s worth noting that Smith is a high three start, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he became a four star in the future.

Targets

Dexter Lawrence 5 Star / 6’4 340 / Wake Forest, Wake Forest, North Carolina

There probably isn’t, but if there ever was a player who could single-handedly change the landscape of NC State football just by committing, this is it. Lawrence topped the most recent Rivals100 as the nation’s number one player, and deservedly so. His offer list, just like Lawrence himself, is gigantic. Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Clemson are just a few of the heavyweights the pack is up against for the superstar defensive tackle. Lawrence wants to remain fairly close to home for college, which obviously helps, and the Pack has done a good enough job that many consider State to be the early leader. At the moment, Clemson looks like the top competitor from out of state. He has been to campus multiple times and will certainly be back.

Tomon Fox 3 Star / 6’3 232 / Collins Hill, Suwanee, Georgia

The Pack wants to take one defensive end, and they would love it if that was Tomon Fox. State will have to come from behind here to beat out UNC, and that will have to start with Fox not committing at UNC this weekend, when he attends the stupidly named "freakshow" event. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if Fox was to end his recruitment this weekend, but hopefully he will prolong it and give the Pack a chance. He recently visited Notre Dame, and they may become a player, but the top two remains UNC and NC State for now. Fox accumulated 34 tackles last season, with 5 coming for a loss, and 3 sacks.

Update: The bad thing happened

Jimmie Taylor 3 Star / 6’3 220 / Southwest-Onslow, Jacksonville, North Carolina

Similar to tight end target Garrett Walston, pass rusher Jimmie Taylor was expected to decide a while ago, and the Pack was the likely choice. Taylor changed his mind though, due to a growing offer list that now includes Florida, Michigan, and Tennessee.  Taylor has said that he doesn’t mind leaving home for school if he finds a place where he is comfortable. Michigan, which was an offer Taylor was pretty excited about, could be that place. State is still in a good position for the soon to be early enrollee, but the pack could decide to pursue other players instead if this recruitment continues to drag out. He has visited NC State more than anywhere else. Taylor had an outstanding 16.5 sacks last season.

Patrick Jones Unrated / 6’5 230 / Grassfield, Chesapeake, Virginia

The tall defensive end has been a fast rising prospect as far as offers go. Virginia Tech recently joined the offer list that included NC State, Wake Forest, Virginia, Duke, and some others. He has also heard from Clemson. Jones has no timetable for a decision, and wants to see a lot of schools before he gets around to making one. Duke and Wake Forest are the two other schools recruiting Jones the hardest, but it’s very early in this recruitment.

Linebackers

Commits

Garrett Hooker 2 Star / 6’2 225 / Ledford Senior, Thomasville, North Carolina

Hooker picked the Pack over an offer from North Carolina. He reportedly racked up 207 tackles last year, which in my expert opinion, is a lot of tackles. The Pack coaches feel that Hooker is on par with the other linebackers on the board, despite the lower rating, and they did not hesitate to accept his commitment. Hooker will likely play in the middle.

Targets

Donta Evans 3 Star / 6’2 221 / Archer, Lawrenceville, Georgia

Evans is a highly sought after linebacker prospect, and arguably the top linebacker prospect the Pack is after. Evans has countless other offers, including Missouri, Louisville, Kentucky and Arkansas, but he loves the Pack and Auburn. He hasn’t cut his list officially yet, bet Evans says that NC State and Auburn will easily make his top five. Evans wants to visit a lot of schools and really experience the recruiting process before he makes his choice. UNC is one of the schools that will have a decent shot of cracking his top five, and he has really enjoyed his visits there. The star inside linebacker is also sure that Georgia will extend him an offer. It is worth noting that Kobe Smith, who is already committed to the Pack, is a teammate of Donta, which can only help. Evans recorded 116 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles last year.

Chase Pine 3 Star / 6’4 220 / Lafayette, Williamsburg, Virginia

NC State is in the Virginia linebacker’s top six along with UNC, Georgia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh. Pine has visited the Pack, but Georgia is likely the leader for now. He loves the coaching staff, the level of program in Athens, and the fact that the Bulldogs play in the SEC. The Pack is there, but will have to overcome the stiff competition of the SEC. He plans to decide early on during his senior season Last season Pine recorded 46 tackles, including 10 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks.

Brock Miller 3 Star / 6’3 208 / John Carroll, Fort Pierce, Florida

Miller has visited NC State, and still lists the Pack as a school that is recruiting him the hardest. Miller is also getting plenty of interest from other North Carolina schools. He currently holds offers from Duke and Wake. The Florida product will decided where he wants to visit this summer very soon, and hopes to have picked a college by the start of the season. His decision isn’t set in stone though, and could be moved back if he ends up considering a school that is far from his home. Kentucky, Mississippi State, California, Boise State, and Minnesota appear to be the top competition for the three star’s services. Last season, Miller had 118 tackles, which included 24 for a loss, and 9 sacks.

Xander Gagnon 3 Star / 6’4 218 / Charlotte Catholic, Charlotte, North Carolina

The awesomely named Charlotte linebacker has earned offers from several power five schools in addition to the Wolfpack. Wake Forest, Boston College, West Virginia, Northwestern, Virginia, Illinois, Vanderbilt, and UNC are all members of that group. Gagnon is very intrigued by the SEC competition he would face at Vanderbilt, and is also very excited to be at Notre Dame this weekend. Those two schools are definitely players early on here, but the idea of playing close to home is something that also interests Xander and especially his family. Gagnon hopes to be deep into the decision process by the end of summer, but doesn’t necessarily have a timeline set up yet. The three star was responsible for 132 tackles last year, while also getting a sack and 3 interceptions.

Kenneth Ruff 3 Star / 6’1 236 / Dillard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Ruff potentially has an emerging top 3 of South Carolina, Clemson, and NC State. The Dillard linebacker will officially visit the Wolfpack, while taking all his allotted official visits. He loves the thought of playing in the SEC, so it isn’t surprising that the Gamecocks are in a good spot here, but the Pack will have plenty of opportunities to make headway, because Ruff isn’t planning on making a choice any time soon. His top three is far from set in stone though, and new offers could change the landscape of this recruitment in a hurry. He is receiving interest from the big three of Florida schools at the moment, but hasn’t been tendered by any of them yet.

Next up: corners and safeties

Part 1: QB/RB/WR

Part 2: OL/TE