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NC State to go with two quarterbacks

NC State Wolfpack football kicks off 2016

VIDEO: NC State Wolfpack football is ready to kickoff for the 2016 season.
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VIDEO: NC State Wolfpack football is ready to kickoff for the 2016 season.

They’re only two letters but you can’t miss the “OR” on N.C. State’s depth chart at quarterback between Jalan McClendon and Ryan Finley.

N.C. State coach Dave Doeren hasn’t made a decision about his starter for the season opener against William & Mary on Sept. 1. The plan is for both quarterbacks to play against the Tribe and that’s OK with McClendon, the backup the past two years and presumptive starter before Finley transferred from Boise State.

The two quarterbacks have split reps evenly with the first-team offense in training camp, McClendon said after practice on Wednesday.

“We’ve been going at it every day and we’ve made each other better and that’s all that matters at the end of the day,” McClendon said. “We’ll both be playing in the first game and I can’t wait.”

Offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz said the competition between McClendon and Finley has been too close to call. Drinkwitz praised how both players have performed in practice.

“Our quarterbacks are playing really well right now and we’re excited about everything they’re doing,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ll feel very confident that both of our guys can get the job done.”

Drinkwitz noted that Alabama and Ohio State, national champions the past two years, didn’t name a starter before their first games, either.

“There’s no reason to rush (a decision),” Drinkwitz said. “We’re still evaluating and gathering information.”

Drinkwitz, Doeren and the offensive staff will get together to make the final decision on the starter, Drinkwitz said. Asked if that decision has already been made, Drinkwitz said no.

“If (a decision) was already made, we’d tell you,” the first-year offensive coordinator said.

If McClendon is starting, as it has been widely speculated, he’s not letting on. He said he would be fine either way with the decision. Starting or coming off the bench won’t change his mindset, McClendon said.

“I’m just going in like I am the starter and we’ll see what happens,” McClendon said.

McClendon played sparingly last season as the backup to Jacoby Brissett, a two-year starter who was taken in the third round of the NFL draft by the New England Patriots. McClendon completed 8 of 14 passes for 69 yards. He didn’t have a touchdown pass or interception.

Finley started the first three games of the season for Boise State last season. He completed 46 of 70 passes for 485 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. An ankle injury in the first quarter of the third game sidelined him for the season and he lost his job to Brett Rypien, who was named all conference as a freshman.

Finley graduated from Boise State in the spring and followed Drinkwitz to N.C. State as a graduate transfer. Even though he graduated, Finley still has three years of eligibility remaining after getting a sixth-year waiver from the NCAA.

The old saying goes if you have two quarterbacks you have none but Drinkwitz said he has no problem using more than one quarterback. He did previously at Arkansas State and last season after Finley’s injury at Boise State.

“I know in the past it has been taboo,” Drinkwitz said of a two-quarterback system. “But for me, with my upbringing in college football with coach (Gus) Malzahn and the ‘wildcat’ and what I’ve done with coach (Bryan) Harsin, it’s not that unusual.”

McClendon didn’t sound worried about splitting reps in a game our getting into or out of a rhythm.

“I think we’ll both be fine,” McClendon said.

Other notes from the depth chart:

▪  N.C. State opted for an “OR” between kickers Kyle Bambard and Connor Haskins, too. Bambard struggled as a freshman last season, going 7 of 14 on field goal attempts and missing all four attempts longer than 40 yards.

Haskins is a graduate transfer from UNC-Pembroke but did not play football last season. He kicked well in the spring while Bambard was dealing with a hamstring injury.

▪ If N.C. State is trying to troll the media with Jaylen Samuels’ position, consider that a job well done.

There was a minor controversy after Samuels was not voted to the preseason All-ACC team at tight end last month. Samuels was the All-ACC choice at tight end in 2015 after leading the Wolfpack in receptions and receiving yards.

The junior, who took snaps at six different positions last season, was officially listed at fullback in the depth chart on Tuesday. He’s listed as a TE/FB on the official roster, so the confusion (for whatever it’s worth) continues.

▪ There are three true freshmen on the depth chart and none listed as starters. Receiver Kelvin Harmon, listed as a backup to sophomore Stephen Louis, has the best chance of the newcomers to make an immediate impact.

At 6-3 and 196 pounds, Harmon adds an element of size to the Wolfpack’s downfield passing game.

Fellow freshman Thadd Moss is listed as Samuels’ backup at fullback. Moss, 6-4 and 247 pounds, has been slowed by some injury issues in training camp but is also another big target.

Cornerback Nick McCloud is the only true freshmen on the defensive depth chart. He’s listed as a backup to junior Mike Stevens.

▪ Eight of the listed starters on defense started in the Belk Bowl loss to Mississippi State.

On the defensive line, end Bradley Chubb and tackle B.J. Hill started all 13 games last season.

Kentavius Street, who has moved back to end, started nine games at tackle last season and tackle Justin Jones made three starts in 2015.

▪ Redshirt freshman running back Johnny Frasier has some work to do to get on the field. Frasier is listed at fourth-string behind senior starter Matt Dayes, junior Dakwa Nichols and sophomore Reggie Gallaspy.

Frasier had an outstanding prep career at Princeton and was N.C. State’s highest-rated recruit in last year’s freshmen class.

He redshirted last year with some injury and fitness concerns.

▪ Offensive line was N.C. State’s second biggest question in the spring but two of the new starters have experience.

Tyler Jones is slated to replace Joe Thuney at left tackle. Jones, a sophomore, started three games last season at right tackle and one game at left guard.

Joe Scelfo started 26 games at South Alabama the past two seasons. The graduate transfer steps in at center for Quinton Schooley, who had started the previous three seasons for the Wolfpack.

Sophomore right guard Garrett Bradbury is the only replacement without starting experience.

“We’ve been going at it every day and we’ve made each other better and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. We’ll both be playing in the first game and I can’t wait.”

VIDEO: NC State Wolfpack football is ready to kickoff for the 2016 season.

The depth chart

Offense

Pos.

No.

Name

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown

LT

53

Tyler Jones

6-3

300

r-So.

Stone Mountain, Ga.

74

Emanuel McGirt

6-6

295

r-Fr.

Durham

LG

65

Garrett Bradbury

6-3

293

r-So.

Charlotte

56

Bryce Kennedy

6-3

305

Gr.

Southern Pines

C

66

Joe Scelfo

6-1

300

Gr.

Bogart, Ga.

59

John Tu’uta

6-3

280

r-Sr.

Fredericksburg, Va.

RG

50

Tony Adams*

6-2

315

Jr.

Charlotte

70

Terronne Prescod

6-5

338

r-So.

Decatur, Ga.

RT

54

Will Richardson*

6-6

303

r-So.

Burlington

64

Peter Daniel

6-6

294

r-Jr.

Raleigh

FB

1

Jaylen Samuels*

5-11

223

Jr.

Charlotte

86

Thadd Moss

6-4

247

Fr.

Charleston, W. Va.

TE

48

Cole Cook

6-6

250

Jr.

Carrollton, Ga.

41

Clark Eyers

6-5

252

r-Sr.

Dunn

88

Pharoah McKever

6-6

260

r-Jr.

Tabor City

WR

13

Bra’Lon Cherry*

5-11

191

Sr.

New Bern

24

Chandler Belk

5-11

170

r-Fr.

Winston-Salem

WR

12

Stephen Louis

6-2

215

r-So.

West Palm Beach, Fla.

3

Kelvin Harmon

6-3

196

Fr.

Palmyra, N.J.

WR

7

Nyheim Hines

5-9

197

So.

Garner

8

Maurice Trowell

5-11

191

r-So.

Durham

30

Gavin Locklear

5-10

186

r-Jr.

Apex

QB

15

Ryan Finley

6-4

200

r-So.

Phoenix

OR

2

Jalan McClendon

6-5

212

r-So.

Charlotte

RB

21

Matt Dayes*

5-9

203

Sr.

Weston, Fla.

27

Dakwa Nichols

5-9

195

r-Jr.

Rockingham

25

Reggie Gallaspy

5-11

225

So.

High Point

22

Johnny Frasier

5-10

224

r-Fr.

Princeton

Defense

Pos.

No.

Name

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown

DE

35

Kentavius Street*

6-2

290

Jr.

Greenville

45

Darian Roseboro

6-4

285

So.

Lincolnton

DT

27

Justin Jones

6-2

300

Jr.

Austell, Ga.

91

Eurndraus Bryant

6-1

345

So.

North Charleston, S.C.

DT

98

B.J. Hill*

6-4

300

Jr.

Charlotte

94

Monty Nelson

6-2

315

Sr.

Plantation, Fla.

DE

9

Bradley Chubb*

6-4

273

Jr.

Marietta, Ga.

39

James Smith-Williams

6-4

220

r-Fr.

Raleigh

MLB

4

Jerod Fernandez*

6-0

220

r-Jr.

Lake Mary, Fla.

44

Ford Howell

6-1

240

r-Jr.

Memphis

WLB

58

Airius Moore*

6-0

237

Jr.

Beavercreek, Ohio

32

Riley Nicholson

6-0

229

So.

Kissimee, Fla.

Nickel

8

Dravious Wright*

5-10

208

Sr.

Vero Beach, Fla.

6

Niles Clark

5-11

185

r-Sr.

Marietta, Ga.

CB

2

Mike Stevens*

5-11

190

Jr.

Charlotte

21

Nick McCloud

6-2

175

Fr.

Rock Hill, S.C.

10

Freddie Phillips

6-1

200

So.

Pelion, S.C.

CB

29

Jack Tocho

6-0

200

Gr.

Charlotte

25

Sean Paul

5-11

192

r-Jr.

Vero Beach, Fla.

FS

11

Josh Jones*

6-2

215

r-Jr.

Walled Lake, Mich.

14

Dexter Wright

6-2

232

r-So.

Wilson

SS

24

Shawn Boone

5-10

201

Jr.

West Palm Beach, Fla.

31

Jarius Morehead

6-1

213

r-Fr.

Whitsett

Specialists

Pos.

No.

Name

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown

K

92

Kyle Bambard*

5-8

190

So.

Wixom, Mich.

OR

33

Connor Haskins

5-8

176

Gr.

Lumberton

P

90

A.J. Cole*

6-4

230

So.

College Park, Ga.

PR

13

Bra’Lon Cherry*

5-11

191

Sr.

New Bern

KR

7

Nyheim Hines*

5-9

197

So.

Garner

Note: * returning starter

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