With the 2009 season behind NC State, it's only natural to take a look back at the year and analyze the roster. The Wolfpacker does just that, taking a position-by-position look at the squad, and figuring out what went right and wrong in 2009, and how the future shapes up. We continue with the defensive tackle position.
Preseason spin The Pack was set with two good starters. Alan-Michael Cash was an underappreciated star in the ACC, and Leroy Burgess was expected to be much improved after a year in the system under his belt. Both were also mature seniors. Depth was a slight question mark. Could junior college transfer Natanu Mageo and converted defensive ends J.R. Sweezy and Markus Kuhn make an impact.
Reality Cash and Burgess lived up to their billing for the most part. Cash had 55 tackles, including 3.5 for losses and two sacks, leading all defensive linemen in tackles. Burgess added 26 tackles, including two sacks, and recovered a team-high three fumbles and intercepted a pass.
The depth was good, too. Sweezy in particular emerged as a destructive force, making 26 tackles, including 6.5 for losses and three sacks. Mageo and surprising true freshman Brian Slay added more depth. Mageo had 10 tackles, including three for losses and a sack, and intercepted a pass. Slay added four tackles and a pass breakup. The depth was good enough to redshirt Kuhn.
Analyzing Recruiting Trend
The Supposed Foundation By the foundation, we mean high school players that were signed in the Classes of 2005, 2006 and 2007 that have been in the program for at least three years. We did not include junior college recruits or major college transfers in this list.
Analysis: As clearly is evident, much like the defensive end position was not a strong foundation of defensive ends on the roster. Part of that is because Ted Larsen (Class of 2005) and Wayne Crawford (Class of 2007) were moved to the offensive line, and Kyle Linney did not qualify for the Class of 2007. Smith also transferred after redshirting his first year. The lack of a strong foundation has made it necessary to sign junior college defensive tackles like Mageo and Burgess and add Boston College transfer Keith Willis, Jr..
The Future? The future are high school and prep players that signed in 2008 through 2010.
Analysis: The need to build for the future had to be balanced with the need to fill immediate needs for depth at defensive tackle. NC State suffered a setback when Everett and Linney from the 2008 class would never play a down at NC State for off the field reasons. The Pack would have been aided if Randolph would have qualified in 2009, and they are crossing their fingers that Roberson will fully recover from a serious ankle injury he suffered before his senior season at Tucker (Ga.) High. It is important that NC State hit on some of their top defensive tackle targets this recruiting season.
State Of The Position
The good news is that Sweezy and Slay look like they could be a potential force at defensive tackle. The key to improving the state of the defensive tackle position is that at least one or two of the threesome of Randolph, Roberson and Teal pan out.