Basketball season has long since past, and baseball has reached it's yearly soul-crushing conclusion. It's the off-season for the major sports with football being but a blip on the horizon, but there's no reason we can't start hyping up our football team now, right? Let's start our positional previews with the quarterback spot, where there are questions aplenty.
The Jacoby Brissett years at NC State have come and gone and with their exit enters the first quarterback battle since 2013 *shudders*. At one point, replacing Brissett looked as if it was going to be straight-forward. Jalan McClendon was the heir apparent was set up to be the three year starter following his redshirt freshman season in 2015. However, the evolution of State’s quarterback roster has opened things up as we head for the first kickoff of 2016.
At 6’5" and 212 pounds, McClendon is an imposing figure and it’s no secret he’s got a rocket of an arm. Being that size and also being a capable runner is an impressive combination. Physically, it’s really all there for McClendon. The redshirt sophomore signal caller saw limited action last season, going 8-14 for 69 yards in garbage time of four games. He’s received very positive reviews from the coaching staff during his first two years on campus, which has sort of pushed the idea that it was his spot to lose.
Jakobi Meyes was a bit of a sleeper coming out of high school. The Pack snatched him away from his commitment to Kent State, and then fended off Florida and Wake Forest for his signature. Meyers isn’t as polished as McClendon in the pocket passing aspect, but he’s an electric playmaker with his legs. He’s drawn comparisons to Russell Wilson (in the football playing sense, not the nanobubbles cure concussions and everyone thinks I suck cuz I’m short sense) and the plays he was making with his legs in the spring game proved those comparisons to have merit.
Both McClendon and Meyers can run, but they are definitely different kinds of runners. McClendon seems more apt to use his legs as a last resort or to extend the play, whereas Meyers is more often looking to make plays on the ground. That’s at least what has been demonstrated from what we’ve seen on the field so far.
Then there’s Ryan Finley. Finley is a graduate transfer following offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz from Boise State, but he will be a redshirt junior this season for the Wolfpack. Finley was the starter in Boise for a little more than two games last year before he got hurt. He completed 65% of his passes, but only threw one touchdown to four interceptions. The Boise State offense also produced its two lowest point totals of the year in his two complete games. That could just as easily be a testament to the quality of opponent faced though and not necessarily Finley. Obviously Finley is the only quarterback on the roster that didn’t have to learn Drinkwitz’s system from the ground up this year.
State adds true freshman Dylan Parham to the roster this year as a down the road player. Parham is physically impressive, but has a long way to go in his development as a quarterback. Josh Taylor and Woody Cornwell also return.
My guess at the starting lineup: Jalan McClendon wins the starting job in a tight race over Meyers, but both quarterbacks see the field early in the season.