With the 2018 football season right around the corner, it’s time for me to help you catch up on your NC State history before the Wolfpack hits the field. In this piece I will be breaking down the best wide receivers in school history. Future breakdowns by position will be coming in the near future.
The below rankings are my own. In looking at all of the data supplied below (collegiate achievements only), these were my conclusions.
- Torry Holt – There is no debate. Holt is the best wide receiver in NC State history. He is the only player at the position to be a Consensus 1st-Team All-American. The only player at his position to win the ACC Player of the Year. The only player at his position to have his jersey retired. Holt is the career leader in receiving yards and touchdown receptions, and ranks 3rd in career receptions. He also made the 1st Team All-ACC twice.
- Jerricho Cotchery – Like Holt, Cotchery made the 1st Team All-ACC twice. He ranks 2nd all-time in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions. In fact, he had been the career leader in receptions for the past 14 seasons, until Jaylen Samuels finished his career with one more reception this past season.
- Koren Robinson – Robinson doesn’t rank in the Top-5 in NC State history in receiving yards, receptions, or touchdown receptions, but I can’t deny him a spot in a list of the Top-5 wide receivers in school history. The only reason he isn’t near or at the top of each of those statistical categories is due to the fact he only played two seasons. He is the only wide receiver in Wolfpack history to win the ACC Freshman of the Year award. He holds the school record for the most 100-yard games in a single season (9), and is tied for 2nd most 100-yard games in a career (14). As a Sophomore, Robinson was 1st Team All-ACC, and earned 2nd and 3rd Team All-American honors. He holds the record for the most receiving yards in school history as a Freshman (854) and as a Sophomore (1,061).
- Eddie Goines – Only one NC State wide receiver was named to 3 All-ACC Teams: Eddie Goines (1st Team 1993-93 & 2nd Team 1992). He ranks 4th all-time in receptions, 4th in yards, and 5th in touchdown receptions.
- Nasrallah Worthen – While he only ranks in the Top-5 in receiving yards, I think Worthen belongs in this spot because he is the only NC State receiver to earn All-American honors in two separate seasons: 3rd Team in 1986 and 2nd Team in 1988. He was also 1st Team All-ACC in both of those seasons as well. Worthen ranks 5th in receiving yards, 7th in receptions, and 9th in touchdown receptions.
Jaylen Samuels – There is no denying the fact that Jay Sam is one of the Top-5 greatest receivers in NC State history. He’s the all-time leader in receptions, and ranks 4th all-time in touchdown receptions. The question boils down to whether or not Samuels was a “wide receiver” or not. At the NFL Combine, he was put in the group with the tight ends, but was Samuels really a “tight end?” Well, he earned All-ACC honors as a tight end in 2015 (1st) and 2016 (3rd). Samuels also earned 3rd Team AP All-American honors as a tight end this past season. He also ranks 6th all-time in school history in rushing touchdowns, but was he really a “running back?” Last season, Samuels was 1st Team All-ACC at the “all-purpose” position, which is about the best way to define him. With all that being said, he took more snaps as a slot receiver in 2017 than anywhere else, so if you want to consider him one of the greatest “wide receivers” of all-time at NC State, you’d be within your right.
Don Buckey – Buckey played in a rush heavy Lou Holtz offense, but that didn’t stop him from leaving NC State as the all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. He and his twin brother quarterback, Dave Buckey, were completely in sync. Besides Torry Holt, Buckey is the only other wide receiver to earn 1st team All-American honors.
Haywood Jeffires – Erik Kramer loved throwing the ball to Jeffires, but he also loved throwing the rock to Nasrallah Worthen and Phil Brothers. With that being said, Jeffires unbelievable talent didn’t go unrecognized, being taken in the 1st round with the 20th overall pick in 1987. He went on to earn 3 All-Pro selections and 3 Pro-Bowl selections.
Mike Quick – Quick was one of the best receivers ever at NC State, but unfortunately he was in a Wolfpack offensive scheme that didn’t sling the pigskin around too much. During Quick’s era, if the ball was thrown, it was his to catch. Quick ranks 6th all-time in receiving yards at NC State. In his Sophomore campaign, Quick helped lead NC State to their last ACC Championship in 1979. Like Jeffiries, he didn’t get the accolades, but the NFL loved his tape. He was drafted in the 1st round with the 20th overall pick, and went on 5 Pro Bowls and 4 All-Pro selections.
NC State Wide Receivers who made an All-ACC Team
Jerricho Cotchery – 2002-03
Koren Robinson – 2000
Torry Holt – 1997-98
Eddie Goines – 1993-94
Charles Davenport – 1999
Nasrallah Worthen – 1986 & 88
Don Buckey – 1975
Pat Kenney – 1972
Harry Martell – 1967
Gary Rowe – 1966
Kelvin Harmon – 2017
Owen Spencer – 2010
Eddie Goines – 1992
Mike Kavulic – 1989
NC State Wide Receivers who won ACC Offensive Player of the Year
Torry Holt – 1998
NC State Wide Receivers who won ACC Freshman of the Year
Koren Robinson – 1999
NC State Wide Receivers who won ACC Player of the Year
Torry Holt – 1998
NC State Wide Receivers who earned All-American Honors
Koren Robinson – 2000 – 2nd Team (Football News) & 3rd Team (AP)
Torry Holt – 1998 – Consensus 1st Team ( Associated Press, The Sporting News, AFCA, Football Writers, Football News)
Nasrallah Worthen – 1986 – 3rd Team (Football News); 1988 – 2nd Team (Sporting News)
Don Buckey – 1975 – 1st Team (Football Writers)
NC State Wide Receivers who have had their Jersey Retired
NC State’s Career Reception Leaders
1. Jaylen Samuels – 2014-17 – 201
2. Jerricho Cothcery – 2000-03 – 200
3. Torry Holt – 1995-98 – 191
4. Eddie Goines – 1991-94 – 147
5. Bryan Peterson – 1999-02 – 139
6. Jarvis Williams – 2007-10 – 133
7. Nasrallah Worthen – 1984-88 – 131
8. Owen Spencer – 2007-10 – 126
8. George Bryan – 2008-11 – 126
10.. Tramain Hall – 2002-05 – 121
NC State’s Career Receiving Yards Leaders
1. Torry Holt – 1995-98 – 3,379
2. Jerricho Cotchery – 2000-03 – 3,119
3. Owen Spencer – 2007-10 – 2,441
4. Eddie Goines – 1991-94 – 2,351
5. Nasrallah Worthen – 1984-88 – 2,247
6. Mike Quick – 1978-81 – 1,934
7. T .J . Williams – 2002-05 – 1,916
8. Koren Robinson – 1999-00 – 1,914
9. Chris Coleman – 1996-99 – 1,909
10. Bryan Peterson – 1999-02 – 1,894
NC State’s Career Touchdown Receptions Leaders
1. Torry Holt – 1995-98 – 31
2. Jerricho Cotchery – 2000-03 – 21
3. Jarvis Williams – 2007-10 – 20
4. Jaylen Samuels – 2014-17 – 19
5. Eddie Goines – 1991-94 – 17
5. George Bryan – 2008-11 – 17
7. Owen Spencer – 2007-10 – 15
7. Koren Robinson – 1999-00 – 15
9. Nasrallah Worthen – 1984-88 – 14
9. Haywood Jeffires – 1983-86 – 14
NC State Wide Receivers: NFL 1st Round Picks
#6 – Torry Holt – 1999
#9 – Koren Robinson – 2001
#20 – Haywood Jeffires – 1987
#20 – Mike Quick – 1982
NC State Wide Receivers: Pro Bowl Selections
Torry Holt – 7
Mike Quick – 5
Haywood Jeffires – 3
NC State Wide Receivers: All-Pro Selections
Mike Quick – 4
Haywood Jeffires – 3
Torry Holt – 1
NC State Wide Receivers: NFL Receiving Yards
1) Torry Holt – 13,382
2) Jerricho Cothcery – 6,623
3) Mike Quick – 6,464
4) Haywood Jeffires – 6,634
5) Koren Robinson – 4,344
NC State Wide Receivers: NFL Receptions
1) Torry Holt – 920
2) Haywood Jeffires – 535
3) Jerricho Cotchery – 524
4) Mike Quick – 363
5) Ted Brown – 339
NC State Wide Receivers: NFL Touchdowns
1) Torry Holt – 71
2) Mike Quick – 64
3) Haywood Jeffires – 51
4) Jerricho Cotchery – 34
5) Alex Webster (RB) – 16
NC State’s All-Time NFL Passing Leaders Headed into 2022 Season
NC State has had 7 former Quarterbacks go on to start games in the NFL. Heading into the 2022 NFL season, Russell Wilson and Jacoby Brissett are the only two former Wolfpackers currently on NFL rosters.
Below is a breakdown of where they rank in career statistical categories as Week 1 approaches.
(Realistically, the only movement I see possibly happening on the below rankings would be Brissett possibly passing Glennon in career touchdown passes, moving into 5th. With Deshaun Watson suspended for a minimum of 6 games, Brissett will start for the Browns.)
Career Passing Yards
- Philip Rivers – 63,440
- Russell Wilson – 37,059
- Roman Gabriel – 29,444
- Erik Kramer – 15,337
- Jacoby Brissett – 7,742
- Mike Glennon – 7,025
- Ryan Finley – 638
Career Passing Touchdowns
- Philip Rivers – 421
- Russell Wilson – 292
- Roman Gabriel – 201
- Erik Kramer – 92
- Mike Glennon – 47
- Jacoby Brissett – 36
- Ryan Finley – 3
- Philip Rivers – 5,277
- Russell Wilson – 3,079
- Roman Gabriel – 2,366
- Erik Kramer – 1,317
- Jacoby Brissett – 727
- Mike Glennon – 689
- Ryan Finley – 58
WATCH: NC State Upsets UCLA in 1974 NCAA Tourney
We’re telling you right now…get some footage and alumni ready for this Holiday Bowl. Bill Walton is a wild dude and based on the west coast. We need Thompson awkwardly laughing as Walton eats a cupcake, candle and all, while big ol’ Burleson is talking about snapping the Bruins’ championship streak.
You also have to admit, broadcast highlights were way cooler back in the day. Jazz music? Nice tinted coloring? Just brilliant use of half speed replays? Put it in our veins.
A look back at NC State great Tommy Burleson, on his birthday
This article was written by Kevin E. Spencer from the North Carolina Expatriates Facebook page. He was kind enough to share it with us in hopes to have it reach NC State fans everywhere.
Tommy Loren Burleson is born ON THIS DAY in Crossnore (population: 192) deep in the North Carolina mountains of Avery County (elevation: 3,392 ft). He will eventually grow to stand well over seven feet tall, and like most young men who rise to that height, especially in North Carolina, he plays basketball.
Tall and thin, (he’s called the “Newland Needle”) but with a knack for getting between a shooter and the basket, and a wingspan that allows him to corral rebounds and own the boards, he leads his Avery County High Vikings to an 85-8 record in his high school career.
However, nearly lost now in the bright light of Burleson’s NC State years (more about those in a moment) are the memories of Burleson and the Avery High Vikings white-hot rivalry with the Marion High Rippers.
Between 1968 and 1970, the two high schools met seven times, playing for Northwestern 3A Conference titles and facing off in the state playoffs. Those games were all sell-outs, and in the crowd for nearly every game sat Dean Smith, Norm Sloan, Bucky Waters, Lefty Driesell, Jack McCloskey, and Bill Gibson, not to mention other major college coaches, with tall Tommy being the center of attention.
On the fifth game of the series, after Burleson and Avery had won the first four straight, Marion Coach Ken Brackett decided to try something different. Avery was anchored by its 2-3 zone defense, with Tommy, of course, clogging up the middle. In practice the week before the game, Brackett has his offense go against defenders with tennis rackets to simulate Burleson’s wingspan. But more than that, he wants to force Burleson and the Vikings out of their impenetrable zone.
The result is a game still talked about by those who were there to see it. It has gone down as the “Freeze Game.” Among the other more unusual aspects of this game: both teams actually shoot 100% from the floor. The catch is, there aren’t that many shots taken.
Marion decides going in that they are going to hold the ball and force Avery out of their zone. Except Burleson and Avery refuse to come out. The result is that Marion keeps the ball down to the final seconds of each quarter, and shoots. The score is 8-8 at the half.
As the game progresses in the same manner in the second half, both teams began to chip and snipe each other. Finally, at just under 2 minutes to go, Burleson hits two free throws to put Avery ahead 12-10. Marion calls timeout, and as Marion’s Archie McIntosh and Avery’s Tom Burleson cross paths…something happens.
What exactly happens depends on which team is doing the talking. McIntosh says Burleson elbows him in the face, Burleson says McIntosh elbows him below the waist. Whichever is right, both boys are instantly flailing away, and both are ejected.
With Burleson out of the game, the Vikings abandon their 2-3 zone, and in the last two minutes, lose 16-13.
Finally breaking the stranglehold Burleson and Avery had on the series, Marion will go on to win the next two games as well. After Burleson and his core of teammates graduates, Marion will also win the eighth game of the series by a comfortable margin.
After that match, McDowell County consolidates, and Marion combines with other area high schools to become McDowell High. The classic Avery-Marion series is over, and the seven-game rivalry goes down in North Carolina High School Basketball history.
How much of that high school rivalry helped fuel the competitive fire that burned in Burleson’s heart in college only he knows, but flame it did…bright and white-hot. Tommy Burleson will go on to play center for Coach Norm Sloan and the NC State Wolfpack.
Perhaps the most under-appreciated player in ACC history, Burleson’s name is sometimes lost among Michael Jordan, David Thompson, James Worthy, Bobby Jones, Cornbread Maxwell, Phil Ford, Brad Daugherty, Nate McMillan, Walter Davis, and a hundred other North Carolina-born players. But Burleson’s contribution to State’s 1974 National Championship cannot be underestimated.
It was Burleson’s tremendous wingspan clearing out underneath the basket that allowed Monte Towe and David Thompson to work their magic, a fact shown indisputably in 1975 after Burleson graduated, and State tried to repeat their National Championship without him.
In two memorable games in the spring of 1974, he showed the world just who he really was. Tommy Burleson played his heart out against Maryland’s Len Elmore and Tom McMillen in the greatest college basketball game ever: the 1974 ACC Championship game between NC State and Maryland.
Three weeks later, in Greensboro at the Final Four, NC State went up against UCLA, winner of the last seven National Championships. UCLA was led by its center, the red-headed and opinionated Bill Walton. The previous November UCLA had handed Burleson and the Pack their only loss in two years. Playing in just their third game of the season, despite having been undefeated the year before, State came out shaky and lost by nearly 20 points. Based on that game, Walton wasn’t particularly worried about NC State….he gets off the jet in Greensboro in sandals, the epitome of Southern California rebellious cool.
Most of us know the details of that epic two-overtime game.
If you were in North Carolina, you almost certainly saw it. State down in regulation and battling back, and then down 74-67 with 3:27 left in the second overtime and again fighting back. Then the final victory as the clock ticked to zero. And if you were fortunate enough to see that game, you know Big Tommy Burleson took Bill Walton to school that day. Walton got his game handed to him.
While the statistics say they played almost to a draw, in reality, Tommy Burleson wrested the National Championship right out of Bill Walton’s hands. Tommy out-played Walton on both ends of the court. Walton may have been Southern California cool…but Tommy was a red and white-hot North Carolina State fire. Burleson dominated Walton that day, despite what Bill Walton might say today.
Burleson was never silky smooth with the basketball. I once saw him corral a defensive rebound, and not immediately seeing an outlet pass available, decide to bring the ball up himself. It wasn’t pretty…each dribble was head high to most of the other players, but he got it over the halfcourt line and into Monte Towe’s hands. At which point Norm Sloan calls timeout, brings Tommy over, puts a friendly arm around his shoulder, and tells him NEVER to do that again.
– member of the Western North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
After basketball, Tommy returns to the mountains of Avery County. He and his wife Denise have three sons, Robert, David, and Quentin. Tommy has been the Director of Inspections and Planning for Avery County for many years now, as well as a grower and seller of Christmas trees. Deeply involved with his church, he spends part of each year doing mission work. And for more than 30 years, he has operated the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp during July. Tommy also remains very involved with NC State…in fact, you can usually find him at most games. Perhaps the ultimate compliment: Tommy Burleson is as good a person as he was a basketball player.
Perhaps the most underrated player in ACC history, Tommy Burleson may not have been silky smooth, but during his time at State, he did what he did underneath the basket better than anybody else in the country…including Bill Walton.
JERSEYS IN THE RAFTERS: Vic Molodet: #73
Everett Case set the standard for the ACC, leading NC State to the first 3 conference championships (54-56). Ronnie Shavlik was arguably the most decorated player from this dynasty, but everyone knows that a great ‘big man’ is most often accompanied by a point guard that can create and get them the ball in optimal scoring situations. Some tandems are not mentioned as individual players, rather they are always remembered as a pair. For instance, rarely do you hear the name Karl Malone mentioned without the name John Stockton followed right behind it. In the case of Ronnie Shavlik, it was hard to think of the All-American center without thinking about All-American point guard Vic Molodet.
Vic Molodet was a 5’11″ point guard from East Chicago, Indiana. Molodet was the coach on the court that led the Wolfpack to three-straight ACC Championships, beginning with the 1st ever ACC Tournament in 1954. Vic played the game with a sense of flare that electrified the crowds in the early years of Reynolds Coliseum. While Shavlik might have been the focal point of the Wolfpack offense, Molodet didn’t go unnoticed by those who voted for post-season honors. Molodet earned All-ACC honors in all three of his varsity seasons, claiming 2nd team honors 1954 and 1955 and 1st team honors in 1956. Vic would go on to play one of his best performances in the ACC championship game his senior season, when he scored 32 points, taking home the tournament MVP award.
Molodet might have had a responsibility of getting Shavlik the ball in the post, but this didn’t stop the crafty point guard from putting the ball in the hoop. His career scoring average of 14.9 ranks 12th in school history, and his 1,405 career points rank 22nd, and a high percentage of those points came from the charity stripe.
In 1956, Molodet helped lead NC State to a #2 rank nationally, though they didn’t finish the year there.
After earning 1st Team All-American honors as a senior, Molodet went on to be drafted by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the the 1956 NBA draft.
1954 – 13.8pts
1955 – 13.5pts
1956 – 18.2pts
2nd Team – 1954 and 1955
1st Team – 1956
All-ACC Tournament Team
2nd Team – 1955
1st Team – 1956 (MVP)
All-Dixie Classic Team
1954 and 1955
1st Team All-American (Converse) – 1956
Molodet’s #73 jersey was honored and lifted to the rafters on February 24th, 1999.
(Molodet’s #73 jersey is honored, but not retired. The only retired jersey is David Thompson’s #44.)