N.C. State has enough depth at running back, even with senior Shadrach Thornton’s suspension, that the plan is to redshirt Johnny Frasier this season.
Frasier, a freshman from Princeton, was rated as the top recruit in the state by Scout and in the top 100 nationally by both Scout and ESPN. Frasier (5-10, 230 pounds) ran for 7,100 yards and 99 touchdowns in his prep career and made waves before Signing Day in February when he switched his commitment from Florida State.
But Thornton, junior Matt Dayes, sophomore Dakwa Nichols and freshman Reggie Gallaspy are ahead of Frasier on the depth chart.
Coach Dave Doeren said Frasier, who was practicing earlier in the week with the scout team, will likely redshirt this season but he hasn’t made a final decision.
“If that’s what we end up doing, we will only do it because we think it’s the best thing for him,” Doeren said.
Frasier missed some practice time this week with the flu, the Wolfpack coach said, and missed some time earlier in training camp visiting a sick family member back in Princeton.
He was already playing catch-up to Gallaspy, a freshman who enrolled in January. When camp began, Doeren said it was likely one of the two newcomers would redshirt this season. Gallaspy, from High Point, was also a highly touted in-state recruit.
Doeren said Gallaspy, who ran for 131 yards in the spring game, made the most of his head start over Frasier.
“(Early enrollees) have already learned through spring ball the ins and outs of their position,” Doeren said. “Reggie had that advantage and he’s playing like it.”
Thornton, the team’s leading rusher last year, has been suspended for the first two games for violating a university rule, which means Dayes will be the starter for the opener against Troy next Saturday.
Dayes ran for 573 yards last season, second to Thornton’s 907, and led the team with 13 touchdowns. Nichols, who had 66 yards on 11 carries, and Gallaspy will back up Dayes for the first two games.
N.C. State was a run-heavy team last year. The Wolfpack averaged more than 200 rushing yards per game (204.5) for the first time since 1992 and at least 5.0 yards per carry for the first time in school history.
Doeren was still high on Frasier’s long-term potential. The year off will help Frasier’s development, Doeren said.
“He’s going to be a really good back,” Doeren said. “He really is.”
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio