Signing Day: N.C. State -O’Brien works on Pack’s depth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

Associated Press
RALEIGH ó Tom O’Brien looked nearly everywhere to strengthen the depth of North Carolina State’s roster.
The Wolfpack’s 28-man recruiting class unveiled Wednesday includes players from 11 states and American Samoa. The focus was on defense and players up front ó they signed seven defensive linemen, five defensive backs and five offensive linemen.
“We tried to sign a football team,” O’Brien said.
Both of the Wolfpack’s highest-rated recruits came from South Carolina. Gaffney native Denzelle Good, rated as the No. 6 offensive lineman in the country by, picked N.C. State over Maryland and Virginia. Rock Hill’s Asa Wilson ó the No. 10 tight end ó selected the Wolfpack over four other Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
They are the centerpieces of a class the Web site ranked as No. 39 nationally and in the middle of the ACC’s pack. They were No. 29 in the nation last year.
“If we like a guy, we like a guy ó I don’t care if (the recruiting experts) like him or not,” O’Brien said.
Nor does O’Brien seem to care where his players come from. Only eight are from the Carolinas, and that short list includes quarterback Everett Proctor, an all-purpose Associated Press all-state honoree.
The rest of the incoming Wolfpack players will come from as far north as Massachusetts, as far south as Alabama and Florida, and as far west as a military academy in New Mexico ó where O’Brien found defensive tackle Nathan Mageo, a native of the American Samoa village of Pago Pago, to bolster his team’s depth along the lines.
“We tried to get immediate help (from junior college players) to get the maturity of a kid that’s two years older and played at a higher level than a high school kid coming in,” O’Brien said. “That’s how we got to New Mexico Military.”
Mageo is one of four three-star defensive linemen to sign with N.C. State, and recruiting analyst Miller Safrit said that complements the Wolfpack’s linebacker-heavy 2008 class.
“When you put those two classes together, that’s when you see this year’s class can be special,” Safrit said.
Depth became a serious issue during both of O’Brien’s first seasons at N.C. State after his teams were crippled by injuries. Those bumps and bruises helped lead to a pair of slow starts, though in both years the Wolfpack showed marked late-season improvement. Last season, N.C. State rallied to win its final four regular-season games and reach the Bowl.