Getty Images

Last-minute Wake TD sends No. 14 NC State to third loss in four games

2 Comments

A lot of the talk heading into Thursday night’s game against Wake Forest centered on how No. 14 North Carolina State could work its way into a New Year’s Six bid.  Exiting it, all such discussion and conjecture ceased.

Things were actually looking up on the prime bowl front early in the fourth quarter for the Wolfpack as a 35-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Finley to Emeka Emezie put them up 23-13 with 14:53 left.  However, that was the last of NC State’s scoring as Wake put up a pair of touchdowns, including a 32-yard touchdown catch by Jack Freudenthal from Jamie Newman with just thirty seconds left, to give the Demon Deacons a stunning 27-23 win at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Newman, making his first career start, threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns.  The sophomore had entered the game with 83 yards passing and zero touchdowns.  In a losing effort, Finley passed for 374.

For NC State, the loss, its third in four games, could mean a short-lived stay in the College Football Playoff rankings.  The Wolfpack entered the Top 25 for the first time two weeks ago, coming in at No. 21 in the first rankings of the 2018 season, before moving up to No. 14 after the latest rankings were released this past Tuesday.

Wake, meanwhile, improved to 5-5 this season, one win away from becoming bowl-eligible for the third straight season for the second time in school history.  Pitt and Duke are the last two teams on Wake’s regular-season slate.

For first time since 2002, No. 23 NC State starts season 5-0

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Perhaps Clemson’s path to another appearance in the ACC championship game isn’t as obstacle-free as some would suggest?

With Florida State in the throes of a first-year head coach rebuild and having already gotten past recent nemesis Syracuse, it had been assumed that Clemson would cruise through the regular season and punch its conference title-game ticket with ease.  North Carolina State, though, could have something to say about that before it’s all said and done.

Facing AJ Dillon-less Boston College, the Wolfpack jumped out to a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter and then held off a furious second-half rally by the Eagles to claim a 28-23 win.  BC scored on a blocked punt with 3:33 to go in the fourth quarter to pull within five, but Ryan Finley completed a 21-yard pass to Stephen Louis on 3rd & 7 with just over a minute remaining on the ensuing drive to seal the win.

Finley finished the game with 308 yards passing, the fourth time in five games this season the senior quarterback has eclipsed the 300-yard mark.  He did throw a pair of interceptions after entering the game with just one on the season.  That pair of picks, though, led to zero points for the Eagles.

With Dillon, fifth nationally in rushing yards per game, sidelined by an ankle injury, the Eagles managed a season-low 120 yards on the ground.

With the win, the Wolfpack is 5-0 to start a season for the first time since 2002.  That squad, under Chuck Amato, won their first nine games that season.

We’ll find out in a relative hurry whether or not NC State are contenders or pretenders in the ACC Atlantic as, following their only off weekend of the regular season, the Wolfpack will travel to Clemson to face the fourth-ranked Tigers.  Likewise, Clemson is off in Week 7.

Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

Getty Images
1 Comment

You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

Record number of players on NFL’s official early-entry list for 2018 draft

Getty Images
1 Comment

If it seemed to you like there were an inordinate number of early cannonballers jumping into the draft pool, you were correct.

Four days after the Jan. 15 deadline, the NFL Friday announced that 106 players have been granted special eligibility for the April draft.  That sets a new record for early entrants, breaking the mark of 98 set in 2014.  The past two seasons, there were 95 and 96 in 2017 and 2016, respectively.  In 2015, there were just 74.

The SEC was hit hardest by attrition with 26 players leaving early, although the ACC wasn’t far behind at 24.  The Pac-12 was next among the Power Five conferences with 17, followed by the Big 12’s 13 and the Big Ten’s 11.

Among Group of Five leagues, Conference USA lost the most with four.  The Mountain West saw three go early, with the AAC (two), MAC (one) and Sun Belt (one) coming next in line.  There were also two non-FBS players who left early, as well as two from Notre Dame.

As far as individual schools go, there were three that lost six apiece — Florida State, LSU and Texas.  Alabama lost five, while Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma, UCLA, and USC all lost four apiece.  Clemson, Florida, Louisville, Stanford and Tennessee were on the losing end of three players each.

In addition to the 106 granted special eligibility — they’ll be listed at the end — the NFL also granted eligibility to 13 players who the league writes “have in timely fashion under NFL rules officially notified the league office that they have fulfilled their degree requirements.” Those players are listed below:

» Jordan Akins, TE, UCF
» Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
» Kyle Allen, QB, Houston
» Will Clapp, C, LSU
» Terrell Edmunds, DB, Virginia Tech
» Taylor Hearn, G, Clemson
» Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
» Sam Jones, G, Arizona State
» Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
» Brian O’Neill, T, Pittsburgh
» Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State
» Tre'Quan Smith, WR, UCF
» Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Courtesy of the NFL, below is the complete list of 106 players who have been granted special eligibility for the 2018 NFL Draft:

» Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame
» Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, DE, Toledo
» Jaire Alexander, DB, Louisville
» Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
» Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas
» Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
» Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
» Jessie Bates, DB, Wake Forest
» Orlando Brown, T, Oklahoma
» Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
» Deontay Burnett, WR, USC
» Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
» Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
» Geron Christian, T, Louisville
» Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana
» Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
» Vosean Crumbie, DB, Nevada
» J.J. Dallas, DB, Louisiana-Monroe
» James Daniels, C, Iowa
» Sam Darnold, QB, USC
» Carlton Davis, DB, Auburn
» Michael Dickson, P, Texas
» Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
» DeShon Elliott, DB, Texas
» Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
» Matt Fleming, WR, Benedictine
» Nick Gates, T, Nebraska
» Rashaan Gaulden, DB, Tennessee
» Frank Ginda, LB, San Jose State
» Rasheem Green, DT, USC
» Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
» Ronnie Harrison, DB, Alabama
» Quadree Henderson, WR, Pittsburgh
» Holton Hill, DB, Texas
» Nyheim Hines, RB, NC State
» Jeff Holland, LB, Auburn
» Mike Hughes, DB UCF
» Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
» Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
» Ryan Izzo, TE, FSU
» Donte Jackson, DB, LSU
» J.C. Jackson, DB, Maryland
» Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa
» Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
» Derwin James, DB, FSU
» Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee
» Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
» Courtel Jenkins, DT, Miami
» Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
» Ronald Jones, RB, USC
» John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
» Arden Key, LB, LSU
» Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
» Du’Vonta Lampkin, DT, Oklahoma
» Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
» Chase Litton, QB, Marshall
» Tavares Martin, WR, Washington State
» Hercules Mata’afa, DE, Washington State
» Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Clemson
» Tarvarus McFadden, DB, Florida State
» R.J. McIntosh, DT, Miami
» Reginald McKenzie, DT, Tennessee
» Quenton Meeks, DB, Stanford
» Kolton Miller, T, UCLA
» D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
» Ryan Nall, RB, Oregon State
» Nick Nelson, DB, Wisconsin
» Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami
» Isaiah Oliver, DB, Colorado
» Dwayne Orso-Bacchus, T, Oklahoma
» Da’Ron Payne, NT, Alabama
» Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn
» Eddy Pineiro, K, Florida
» Trey Quinn, WR, SMU
» D.J. Reed, DB, Kansas State
» Justin Reid, DB, Stanford
» Will Richardson, T, NC State
» Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
» Austin Roberts, TE, UCLA
» Korey Robertson, WR, Southern Miss
» Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
» Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
» Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
» Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
» Andre Smith, LB, UNC
» Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
» Van Smith, DB, Clemson
» Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss
» Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
» Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
» Auden Tate, WR, Florida State
» Maea Teuhema, T, Southeastern Louisiana
» Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia
» Kevin Toliver, DB, LSU
» Travonte Valentine, NT, LSU
» Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
» Vita Vea, NT, Washington
» Mark Walton, RB, Miami
» Denzel Ward, DB, Ohio State
» Chris Warren, RB, Texas
» Toby Weathersby, T, LSU
» Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pittsburgh
» JoJo Wicker, DT, Arizona State
» Jalen Wilkerson, DE, Florida State
» Connor Williams, T, Texas
» Eddy Wilson, DT, Purdue

Nyheim Hines leaving NC State early for draft

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the first time this year, North Carolina State has lost a standout performer early to the NFL.

NC State announced Friday afternoon that running back Nyheim Hines has decided to forego his remaining eligibility and enter the April NFL draft.  Hines made the announcement in a press release issued by the school.

“We appreciate Nyheim’s contributions to the entire athletic program as a multisport athlete,” said head coach Dave Doeren in a statement. “He could’ve played college football anywhere in the country but he chose to stay home and come to NC State. He has made an impact on and off the football field.”

“I would like to thank the coaches for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play at my dream school,” Hines began in his. “I appreciate everybody at NC State who has helped me along the way. Last, but not least, I want to thank Wolfpack Nation for always supporting me – even in high school – to help make my dream come true. NC State will always be a part of me wherever I am in life, and I will always be drawn back here.”

A first-team All-ACC performer in 2017, Hines was also a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player.  Additionally, as a member of the NC State track team, he was an ACC champion and All-American as the leadoff leg for the 4×100-meter relay team.