With the season fast approaching, we are starting to get a feel for who will play early out of the 2015 freshman class. There are a few obvious answers to the early playing time questions, but there are a few surprises as well. Of course some of the four stars will see the field, but there could be some lesser known freshmen seeing significant time right off the bat.
The following rankings are based on how immediate (and how big) of an impact each incoming freshman could have during their careers at State.
1. RB/WR/KR Nyheim Hines
Anyone who follows NC State recruiting closely at all knows all about Hines, the local speedster who is a jack-of-all-trades. The consensus four star recruit from just down the road in Garner is already getting a lot of reps at slot receiver and returning some kicks and punts. Recruited as a running back primarily, Hines knows this is the quickest way to see the field as well as perhaps the best way to get him in space. The national-level sprinter could be breaking long plays as early as game one.
2. LS Tyler Griffiths
This may seem a bit odd, but Griffiths (who was given a scholarship, rare for a long snapper), will step straight into the role. After walk-on RC Brunstetter decided to transfer, he became the only option at long snapper. Griffiths was also wanted by Louisville, but decided to stay in the state of North Carolina for his collegiate years. Early reports from camp are mixed on his results, so with his large early impact, some improvement would bode well.
3. DL Darian Roseboro
Back to the more expected contributors with Roseboro, who was generally seen as one of the most anticipated newcomers of the group. After flipping from his brief commitment to Michigan, the Wolfpack coaches immediately had plans for Lincolnton prospect to jump into the two-deep on the defensive line. The question is where he fits, as his size at 6'4" and over 270 lbs could fit at either end or tackle. Right now, he is slotted as the backup defensive end.
4. S Freddie Phillips
The first commitment in the cycle, Phillips was an early enrollee and it will help him see the field early despite talent and large numbers in the secondary. The three star from South Carolina picked the Pack primarily over UNC and Wake Forest and has already shown some leadership qualities among the freshmen. Currently, Phillips is second on the depth chart at nickel back and should see some snaps there throughout the season as well as plenty of action on special teams.
5. RB Johnny Frasier
It has been a hot debate among the NC State faithful as to which freshmen backs will contribute this season and to what degree. Frasier, a local 4 star back, has the measurables to fit in from day one, even if he is still technically behind fellow freshman Reggie Gallaspy on the depth chart. Over the course of the season, Frasier's ability and size will be hard to replicate. He could at the least be a 3rd-and-mid type option.
6. RB Reggie Gallaspy
While touches will be limited with up to six backs wanting touches, Gallaspy still appears set to make a difference. He was a star of the Spring Game, with well over 100 yards, and is still mentioned by the coaches as being ahead of Frasier at this point. Enrolling early has certainly helped the Greensboro native, and may get some touches, at least in the early games.
7. LB Riley Nicholson
Nicholson, another early enrollee, looks set to make an early impact despite a strength at the linebacker position. However, that impact is likely to be on special teams for now. The three star from Florida has done well on special teams so far and will hope to get on the field this year and next for some reps at his actual position. Sophomores Jerod Fernandez and Airius Moore are his major roadblocks to major playing time.
8. WR Freddie Simmons
One of the last additions to the NC State class of 2015, Simmons is a lanky wide receiver with game-breaking ability. With a receiving corps in flux, Simmons has a real chance in the next few weeks to break into the rotation. With his size at 6'3", he presents both a deep threat and a target in the red zone. However, he may need to add quite a bit of weight to play much early.
9. DT Eurndraus Bryant
Bryant is a massive lineman well over 300 pounds, and it appears that his size may lead to playing time as a freshman. Another late addition (due to academic questions) and a two star, Bryant has seen some reps in fall camp with the two-deep. Whether he cracks the rotation this year or not, he seems poised to play significant snaps by his sophomore year.
10. OT Daris Workman
Workman is not exactly expected to play this season despite his junior college pedigree, but he should, at the least, challenge for a spot in the mix is season and play as a redshirt junior otherwise. Workman's biggest challenge is adding a few pounds, as he came to Raleigh around 260 lbs. His experience combined with his potential frame is intriguing to the coaching staff, who have been hoping for more competition along the o-line.
11. LB/DB James Smith-Williams
Yet another two star prospect (and early enrollee) who is competing for a spot on the depth chart, JSW has size that fits well with what the coaches have liked at the nickel back position. Right now, at less than 220 lbs, Smith-Williams is a tweener who may eventually become a full-time linebacker. He is a very strong student (engineering major), so picking up the playbook should not be an issue. He could be another special teams option, like Nicholson.
12. OT Emanuel McGirt
It may be a surprise to see the fourth highest-rated recruit in the class fall this far, but it is nothing personal against him. McGirt is a highly gifted with great size, it is just rare for a freshman left tackle to see the field. If some of the returners struggle, though, he could be plugged into that spot quickly. The Durham native will at the least see the field next year.
13. DT Quentez Johnson
Another 300 plus defensive tackle, Johnson's size was attractive as a nose tackle option. After picking the Pack over some other ACC level offers, Johnson helped put together this class with his personality. If he works hard to get into the right kind of shape, his ability to take on blockers should earn him some playing time in his first 2-3 years.
14. WR Vernon Grier
Grier is a rather unheralded addition, but he adds to the group of former track athletes that Dave Doeren has been stockpiling. A tad undersized at about 5'10", Grier's speed and polish may help him see the field early. Flipping the commitment of Grier from Charleston Southern was a good one for more than just his measurables, Mallard Creek is the powerhouse of NC high school football right now (oh, hello, Jaylen Samuels).
15. QB Jakobi Meyers
While certainly not expected to play this year, it appears as if Meyers will be the immediate backup to Jalan McClendon next season, so he will certainly have to be ready to play. After changing from Akron to State, Florida came calling but it was not enough. The dual threat QB could be an exciting leader down the line.
16. WR Brian Sessoms
Another player who is not expected to contribute in year one, but Sessoms' speed should come into play before long. Sessoms could pair with Hines down the line to form a deadly kick return duo. Running sub 4.4 40s in camp means he has legitimate speed that will be of use on the field at some point in his career.
17. DE Emmanuel Olenga
Olenga is yet another flip, from ECU, who has some long-term potential in Raleigh. At 6'4" and over 245 pounds, he has prototypical size on the edge, and is basically blocked from early playing time by the strength at the position. If Olenga stays the course, he could be one that I get wrong in this list with his size and speed.
18. S Jarius Morehead
One of the first commitments came from the alma mater of both Debbie Yow and the Holt brothers. Morehead has made some impression on the coaching staff, but appears to be blocked by the depth at the position. He could see the field as early as next year if he keeps improving, as it sounds like he has the strength and IQ to contribute.
19. DE Tyrone Riley
Riley has fantastic size potential for the Wolfpack, coming in at 6'6" and around 215 lbs. As soon as he is able to pack on 40-50 more, he could have a Pharoah McKever-like impact as a rush end. Pursued by several ACC and SEC (former Kentucky commit) programs, Riley clearly has potential once he adds that weight.
20. OL Aaron Wiltz
Wiltz is nearly physically ready to play, but, like McGirt, will more than likely not be pressed into action. The former UCF commitment will likely be a contributor as a junior and senior, barring any surprises.
21. OL Philip Walton
Walton has the size and reach to ultimately become a useful asset for the Wolfpack, but he still needs to gain weight and improve his footwork. At over 6'5", Walton has the reach to eventually play tackle, but will have to wait a few years to truly contribute on Saturdays.
NA C TJ McCoy
McCoy left the team and transferred to Florida this summer after enrolling early in Raleigh. A combination of his father's sickness and his own homesickness led to his decision. He was looking like an eventual starter at center.