NC State has released their depth chart for the season opening football game this Saturday night against Wake Forest.
Left Tackle & Left Guard
Left Tackle – After starting the final 7 games of 2019 at Left Tackle as a True Freshman, Ikem Ekwonu was all but assumed to be a lock at Left Tackle again in 2020. Ekwonu was 2nd Team All-ACC and Freshman All-American by ProFootballFocus in 2019. According to Doeren at his Weekly Press Conference today, Redshirt Graduate Tyrone Riley will start at Left Tackle, and Ekwonu will make the move to starting at Left Guard, in an effort to get the best 5 blockers on the field.
Redshirt Freshman Timothy McKay is listed as Riley’s backup at Left Tackle. He was listed as the backup at Right Guard heading into the last game of the season in 2019. McKay was able to get snaps in three games last year on Special Teams, and still maintain his Redshirt status. Redshirt Freshman Dylan McMahon is right where he left off last season, as the backup at Left Guard. McMahon was able to get some quality experience last season, playing 101 snaps on the O-Line in 4 games, including getting one start, while maintaining his Redshirt status.
Redshirt Junior Grant Gibson is the starter once again at Center. He’s the only player returning that started every game on offense last season, and earned the title of Captain this year. Redshirt Junior Liam Ryan is backing Gibson up. Ryan played on Special teams in the season opener, and played one snap from scrimmage against Ball State. He is a transfer from Folk Union Military Academy. The 3rd string Center is True Freshman Ethan Lane.
Right Tackle & Right Guard
Redshirt Graduate Senior Joe Sculthorpe is starting at Right Guard. Sculthorpe started 11 of 12 games in 2019 at Left Guard, but this year he is moving over to fill the void left by Josh Fedd-Jackson. Sculthorpe is the 2nd most experienced player on NC State’s roster behind Wide Receiver Emeka Emezie. Redshirt Junior Bryson Speas is listed as Sculthorpe’s backup. Speas started 6 of the final 7 games in 2019 (5 at RT and 1 at RG).
Redshirt Senior Right Tackle Justin Witt started the first 5 games of 2019 at Right Tackle before missing the rest of the season due to injury. Witt is the 3rd most experienced player on the Wolfpack roster, and is a 3-year starter. Witt’s backup, Redshirt Sophomore Derrick Eason was moved from Defensive Tackle to Offensive Tackle 10 days before last season began. He played 33 snaps last year. Redshirt Freshman Zovon Lindsay redshirted last season, and didn’t see action in a single game.
Redshirt Senior Cary Angeline led NC State in touchdown receptions in 2019 with 5, and had 25 receptions for 369 yards. Angeline earned All-ACC Honorable Mention last year. Redshirt Senior Thomas Ruocchio is Angeline’s backup earned a scholarship prior to last season, and played in all 12 games last year. Most of his playtime time was on Special Teams, but he did see action from the line of scrimmage in 5 games. Redshirt Freshman Kam Walker is third string, and didn’t play at all last year in his redshirt season.
Redshirt Graduate Junior Dylan Autenrieth is a 3-year starter, and is a Captain for a second-straight year. Autenrieth unfortunately went down with a season ending injury in Game 3 last year. While Autenrieth is listed as the starter, there is an “OR” between his name and Redshirt Graduate Junior Dylan Parham. Both Autenrieth and Parham have earned a 6th year of eligibility. Parham played in 7 games in 2019, starting 2, but missed the final 5 games due to injury.
Senior Emeka Emezie enters this year as a 3-year starter. Maybe a return to the #86, instead of Kelvin Harmon’s #3 he wore last year, will help take the pressure off his shoulders. In 2019, Emezie had 56 receptions for 576. Those numbers aren’t what people expected out of him, but those numbers were severely effected by poor quarterback play. Emezie’s 122 career receptions rank 13th in school history. If he were to match his total from last year, he would finish his Senior season 4th in school history. There is an “OR” in between Emezie’s name and Redshirt Sophomore Jasiah Provillon. Maybe Provillon has been showing out in practice, but I have a hard time thinking he’s pushing Emezie for the starting job. In 2019, Provillon saw action in 8 games as a reserve, with 2 receptions for 58 yards in 88 plays. Redshirt Junior Max Fisher is listed behind them. Fisher missed 4 games due to injury, but had 3 receptions for 46 yards in 69 plays. He also blocked a punt.
Redshirt Sophomore Devin Carter was forced into the limelight last year after C.J. Riley went down for the year, and ended up starting in 11 of 12 games. He finished 2019 with 32 receptions for 456 yards. There is an “OR” between Carter’s name and Redshirt Graduate Junior C.J. Riley, who is looking to make a season worthy of “Comeback Player of the Year”, after tearing his ACL in the season opener last year. Riley was the fastest player on the team heading into 2019. Sophomore Keyon Lesane is listed behind them, and showed that he has a future of being a playmaker. He had 13 receptions for 93 yards, 6 rushes for 57 yards, and 16 kickoffs returned for 278 yards.
Redshirt Graduate Junior Thayer Thomas saw his numbers dip a little bit in the QB Carousel that was 2019. This will be Thomas’ 2nd year as a starter, after finishing 2019 with 31 receptions for 344 yards and 3 touchdowns. There is an “OR” between Thomas’ name and True Freshman Porter Rooks, who was the highest rated player in the Wolfpack’s 2020 recruiting class. While I assume Thomas has a lock on the starting job heading into 2020, it will be impossible to keep Rooks off the field this season.
Redshirt Sophomore Devin Leary was the starter at seasons end for NC State in 2019, and he enters 2020 with the job still in hand. Honestly, NC State’s team will live or die on the success at the QB position once again, and once again, it is a large question mark. Leary might have won the job, but his performance in 2019 was less than convincing, completing only 48% of his passes. With that being said, he started the final 5 games of the season, and the coaches didn’t blink in naming him the starter in 2020. Redshirt Junior Bailey Hockman got the nod ahead of Leary in 2019, but this time he will be trying to take his job. Hockman started 2 games in 2019, throwing 3 interceptions compared to 1 touchdown. True Freshman Ben Finley is the 3rd string Quarterback ahead of Ty Evans. Finley had a lot of positive buzz in Fall Camp.
Junior Ricky Person is at the top of a list of names with “OR” in between their names. Despite this designation, my assumption is that Sophomore Zonovan Knight is NC State’s #1 back, and all the “OR”‘s represent the fact that it will be Running Back by committee. Person was plagued by injuries in 2019, rushing for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns in 7 games. Sophomore Bam Knight is listed after Person, despite being the Wolfpack’s leading rusher in 2019, rushing for 745 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 5 yards per carry. He earned Honorable Mention on PFF’s All Freshmen Team. Sophomore Jordan Houston’s name is listed behind Knight’s. Houston is one of the more electric players on NC State’s roster, averaging 5.2 yards per carry (526 yards rushing) as a True Freshman. Redshirt Sophomore Trent Pennix is listed as the 4th running back, but I’m not even convinced Pennix will stay at that position.