Pack picks up tight end

Browne likes playing style

Staff WriterJanuary 26, 2011 

— With national signing day one week away, N.C. State has climbed out of last place in the ACC in one of the major recruiting rankings.

Tight end Benson Browne's coach at Walnut Hills High in Ohio, George Kontsis, said Tuesday that Browne has committed to the Wolfpack.

That moved N.C. State past Wake Forest into 11th place in the ACC in Scout.com's rankings for the Class of 2011 as of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Scout.com had N.C. State at No. 63 overall, one spot ahead of Wake Forest.

The Wolfpack remained last in the ACC in the Rivals.com rankings.

Since Sunday, N.C. State has received commitments from Browne, defensive tackle Chris Jones of Raines High in Jacksonville, Fla., and wide receiver Hakeem Flowers of Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C.

N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien has often said he doesn't pay much attention to recruiting rankings because he doesn't believe analysts can predict how a given player will fit into a particular school's system.

"One thing I've learned about Tom O'Brien in his decade at Boston College is, you can't go based on recruiting rankings or stars next to a kid's name with O'Brien and his staff," Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell said last week.

N.C. State still is ranked far behind rival North Carolina, whose class is rated No. 18 in the nation and No. 3 in the ACC by Scout.com. Duke is rated 10th in the ACC by Scout.com, but lost a commitment when running back Jalen Simmons of West Charlotte decided to attend South Carolina State.

At N.C. State, O'Brien's background in Cincinnati helped him land Browne. O'Brien, offensive coordinator Dana Bible and offensive line coach Don Horton on the Wolfpack staff all are from Cincinnati.

"That carried a lot of weight," Kontsis said. "I think it does, and Benson thinks it does."

Browne is 6 feet 6 and 248 pounds and has been a basketball player his whole life. He has played football for just two seasons and plans to redshirt as N.C. State returns senior tight end George Bryan, a two-time All-ACC selection.

Although Browne didn't catch many passes this season, Kontsis said he has excellent receiving skills.

"He's about as athletic as you can be," Kontsis said. "He'll catch anything."

Browne also considered Louisville and Illinois. Kontsis said Browne was comfortable with N.C. State because of its pro-style offense that features the tight end and because Browne will be the only player at that position in this class.

Jones, the defensive tackle from Jacksonville, Fla., who chose N.C. State, also considered North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa State. Jones is 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds.

"He's a big kid, a hard-working kid, a good student of the game," said Raines coach Deran Wiley. "... He has all the tools."

Simmons to S.C. State: Jalen Simmons, the West Charlotte running back, said Tuesday that he will attend S.C. State rather than Duke.

"I'd like to thank them [Duke] for giving me a chance to play for them," Simmons said Tuesday. "Things just didn't work out."

Simmons said he hopes to be able to contribute immediately at S.C. State.

Linebacker Britton Grier, a teammate of Simmons' at West Charlotte, still is expected to sign with the Blue Devils.

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com or 919-829-8942

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