The good news is the success in the NFL draft is one of the primary reasons N.C. State has done so well in recruiting this year.
The bad news is those players, a school-record seven in the draft and six other starters, have to be replaced.
Quarterback Ryan Finley, his top receivers and three starters on the offensive line return for coach Dave Doeren this season.
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But when practice opens on Friday there will be many familiar names missing. A look at who N.C. State has to replace:
N.C. State charts “explosive” plays from scrimmage as runs of 10 yards or longer and passing plays of 20 yards or longer. Running back Nyheim Hines was responsible for a team-best 27 of those plays and all but one came on the ground.
Hines, who led the Wolfpack with 1,112 rushing yards, was a tough runner between the tackles (especially for his size) but he was a true home-run hitter. When he was hurt and missed parts of the Notre Dame, Clemson and Wake Forest games, N.C. State lost. He was that important to the offense.
N.C. State will rely on senior Reggie Gallaspy to replace Hines as the primary running back. Freshman running back Ricky Person has speed and perhaps could be more involved in the passing game than Hines was in 2017.
Jaylen Samuels was second on the team in explosive plays with 24. Somewhat surprisingly, given Samuels led the team in receptions (with 76) — and is the school’s career leader in receptions (with 202) — only six of Samuels’ explosive plays (seven if you count his halfback pass to Dylan Parham) were in the passing game.
Hines and Samuels made a bunch of scoring plays, too. They each had 12 rushing touchdowns. They accounted for 68.6 percent (24 of 35) of the Wolfpack’s rushing touchdowns last season.
For all of Samuels’ titles — he was officially listed as a fullback and tight end — he was essentially a slot receiver who was used as a short-yardage running back.
His 102 targets were second on the team last year (receiver Kelvin Harmon had 118). Offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz won’t try to use one player to replace Samuels’ versatility but expect receiver Jakobi Meyers and receiver Steph Louis (who also switched to Samuels’ jersey No. 1) to be used in a different ways this season.
Backup quarterback Jalan McClendon had a larger role in 2016 than in ’17. McClendon was used as a short-yardage runner in ’16. He didn’t get on the field as much due to Finley’s development last season. McClendon graduated in the spring and transferred to Baylor.
That means either Matt McKay, who redshirted last season, or Devin Leary, a true freshman, will be Finley’s backup this season. Under new NCAA rules, Leary will be allowed to play in as many as four games and keep his redshirt status (ie he will still have four years of eligibility remaining).
Tight end Cole Cook only caught one pass last season, for 29 yards in the opening game, but he will be difficult to replace. Cook was arguably the best blocker on the team. N.C. State had 23 runs of 20 yards or more last season. Dollars to doughnuts Cook had a key block on 20 of those plays. He was a guy who didn’t stand out on a stat sheet but made a lot of Hines and Samuels’ big plays possible.
Dylan Autienrieth, who was used as a second blocking tight end, will take over Cook’s spot. Parham, who played sparingly last season, will have a bigger role and so will Cary Angeline, a transfer from Southern California. Angeline, a big target (6-7, 254 pounds) is expected to miss the first three games under NCAA transfer rules.
Right guard Tony Adams was a fixture for four years on the offensive line until a knee injury in the first half of the regular-season finale against North Carolina. His leadership will be missed.
Right tackle Will Richardson was a talented pass blocker and his absence in the South Carolina game (a suspension) was one of the key reasons for that loss.
Sophomore guard Josh Fedd-Jackson and sophomore tackle Justin Witt are penciled to start on the right side to replace Adams and Richardson, respectively.
Bradley Chubb was so good, he was given Mario Williams’ number (No. 9) before his junior year. After breaking many of Williams’ school records, for sacks and tackles for loss, Doeren will give out the No. 9 jersey as a way to honor both Williams and Chubb.
The ACC defensive player of the year, Chubb led the Wolfpack with 10 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in 12 games. He was the biggest reason the Wolfpack scored significant wins at Florida State and at home against Louisville. Boston College and Pitt are equally thrilled he’s now the NFL’s problem (the Denver Broncos made him the No. 5 overall pick in the draft).
Chubb had help up front. Fellow starters B.J. Hill, Justin Jones and Kentavius Street followed Chubb in the first four rounds of the draft.
With that talent, N.C. State ranked No. 26 in the country against the run last season. Opponents will be eager to test the new faces on the ground.
Darian Roseboro, Shug Frazier and Eurndraus Bryant all played significant snaps on the defensive line last season. Fourth-year junior James Smith-Williams and redshirt freshman Grant Gibson will get more playing time. Junior-college transfers Larrell Murchison and Joe Babros are expected to help. The coaching staff is also bullish on freshman defensive tackle Alim McNeill from Sanderson.
Mike linebacker Jerod Fernandez led the team in tackles (with 98) and started for parts of four seasons in the middle. Airius Moore started with Fernandez for most of the past four years on the outside. He led the team with four interceptions.
Louis Acceus, a sophomore who played mostly on special teams last season, exited spring practice as Fernandez’s replacement in the middle. Germaine Pratt, a playmaking senior, will step into Moore’s role on the outside.
A knee injury derailed cornerback Mike Stevens’ senior season, although he did start six games. Converted receiver Johnathan Alston had some shaky moments at cornerback but overall had a strong season in his lone season on defense.
Maurice Trowell, another converted receiver, and Chris Ingram, a sophomore who started one game last season, are expected to replace Stevens and Alston.
Shawn Boone was N.C. State’s best player in the secondary. A nickel, he was better against the run than the pass but he had a nose for the ball and was usually in the right spot. Doeren is hoping Stephen Griffin, a transfer from Tennessee, will be able to fill Boone’s spot at nickel.
Carson Wise started the season as the kicker but was replaced midway through the season by Kyle Bambard. Wise, a graduate transfer from Carson-Newman, actually has another year of eligibility but has received a medical hardship (he’s still on scholarship but unable to play) for this season.
The biggest loss on special teams will be Hines. Hines averaged 22.3 yards per kickoff return and 12.3 yards per punt return (with a 92-yard touchdown in a win at Pitt).
Hines was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. N.C. State does not have that type of explosive returner on the roster.