Now that we've had some time to process NC State's 2016 recruiting class, it's time for some wild speculation! Myself, Matt, and Alec took a shot at a handful of questions about #Pack16 below.
1. Who will have the biggest impact right away?
Matt: I hate to be obvious, but Thaddeus Moss appears to be in line to make the quickest impact. Both from a size and talent standpoint he appears ready, then there was David Grinnage leaving a year early for the pros. It appears as if he will mostly compete with junior Cole Cook, who is a strong blocker but somewhat of an unknown in the downfield passing game. I expect Moss to be a solid second tight end if nothing else as a freshman.
Alec: I have to go with Thad Moss here. Moss was one of the best tight end recruits in the country and he enters a position group that returns Pharaoh McKever and that's it. Moss has good hands and will have an opportunity to help a passing attack that lacked reliable targets last year.
Steven: It feels like it has to be either a wide receiver or defensive back, and I'll go with Kelvin Harmon mainly because I'm so starved for a breakout player at that position. Doesn't mean Harmon will have a big year, just that I think he can put himself on track for a big career.
2. Who will be the biggest surprise?
Matt: There were several good options here, like CJ Riley and James Valdez, but they are at least three stars with decent offers. Two star Garrett Hooker was extremely productive as a high school linebacker despite his lack of offers. Hooker isn't going to blow you away athletically, but he has a nose for the ball and steps into a position with not a lot of star power. I doubt he passes Jerod Fernandez, Airius Moore, and Riley Nicholson, but he should be next in line and could form a great duo with Brock Miller.
Alec: James Valdez will be the biggest surprise. Valdez is one of the highest rated players in the class, so contributions from him probably shouldn't be considered a surprise, but it feels like he's been sort of forgotten about. His recruitment was a quiet one that ended quickly, which might be why he hasn't been talked about more. Valdez is probably the most ready to play defensive back in the class so he could surprise some people with an early contribution, especially given the struggles the secondary had last year.
Steven: Bryce Dixon can work his way quickly into the rotation at tight end with the lack of experience at that position. Also it's hard to ignore Dave Doeren's comparison to Jaylen Samuels.
3. Who will be the senior breakout player? (Who will come from deep on the depth chart and be a difference maker as a senior)
Matt: Even though there is depth at the position, I like Dylan Autenrieth to stand out as a senior. Moss will likely be gone after 3 or 4 years and Autenrieth is a redshirt candidate. Bryce Dixon may not redshirt and projects at several positions, so Autenrieth could be the man at tight end. He is an athletic player for the position and projects as a decent blocker, so he could be a productive senior. Easy picks would include an offensive lineman or defensive back since the depth is building up.
Alec: I think this will be one of the four project offensive linemen in the class. If I had to pick one I guess I'd go with Justin Chase. Chase is super raw but he has the physical attributes that make you think "bright future."
Steven: I'm not sure where Brock Miller fits initially--maybe he plays right off the bat and my answer is very wrong--but he seems like the kind of prospect that can become really good with a few years at this level.
4. Who is a candidate to make a difference at a position other than what they were recruited for?
Matt: There are a few candidates for this one, but my pick would be Bryce Folsom. Folsom was recruited as an offensive lineman, but played both ways in high school. He could slide to defensive line if the playing time situation becomes better, as he is athletic and experienced there. Moss could move to defensive end, as he supposedly greatly enjoys that position, but he may be too necessary at tight end. Kendall Brown could also move to defense from tackle and Isaiah Simmons could bulk up and move to linebacker.
Alec: Isaiah Stallings is my pick here. Stallings was recruited to play safety but could potentially have a future at linebacker as well. He has the frame to eventually develop into one and is often described as a hard hitter who isn't particularly fast. That sounds similar to Germaine Pratt, who should probably be a linebacker. I'm not saying Stallings should certainly be a linebacker, but he has the potential to end up there.
Steven: JJ Givens seems like the kind of prospect that can end up on either side of the ball, depending on how his development goes. Basically I'm just fixated on this catch he made here at the :55-second mark.
5. Who will be a fan favorite?
Matt: From the bit I have gotten to see, JJ Givens could be a big player with the fans due to his personality and dancing. He occasionally has an interesting haircut and seems to get along with his fellow recruits. Could be a Dajuan Morgan-type personality on the field. Tim Glass and James Valdez both seem like types that could get the fans fired up on game day.
Alec: Bryce Dixon is a hometown kid that should find his way onto the field early on. Dixon's versatility should make him a really fun player to watch and the fans could fall in love with him much like they did Jaylen Samuels.
Steven: Thaddeus Moss, no question. There are so many ways we can go with Thad Moss, whether he ends up at tight end or defensive end or wherever. His dad's history and hall-of-fame play leave us all sorts of potential jokes, memes, and photoshop opportunities. Basically this is already written in stone. Unless he transfers after his sophomore year, then he's a damn quitter! (I'm kidding.)