ACC: Andre Brown

NC State's Eugene takes a seat -- and a table

July, 31, 2009
7/31/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- NC State halfback Jamelle Eugene took his Pop Warner football pretty seriously growing up in Naples, Fla. In fact, he was so intent on being the best running back out there that he took his mother's kitchen chairs, tied them to a rope around his waist, and dragged them around the yard in attempt to build his leg strength.

 
  Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
  Jamelle Eugene averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season.

Eventually, he progressed to the table, too.

No wonder he's earned the nickname "The Hurricane."

"I just felt like the only way to be better was to work out, and so I tried to do things everybody else wasn't doing," said Eugene, who enters his senior season with 1,168 career yards. "That's when I started pulling the chairs. I felt as a running back you need to build up your legs, and that was a way for me to act like I'm dragging people, dragging tables and chairs around."

His hard work paid off. Eugene averaged over 11 yards per carry in high school, but didn't start to take over NC State's running game until the second half of the 2007 season when he started the final six games. He was forced into the spotlight after injuries to juniors Toney Baker and Andre Brown, and he made the most of it with three 100-yard rushing games.

Eugene has rushed for over 1,000 yards in the past two seasons combined and will again be a strength of the Wolfpack's backfield. His 4.7 yards per carry last year led the team. Eugene, along with the return of Baker and fullback Taylor Gentry, will give NC State a formidable ground game -- if they all stay healthy. Eugene missed the first three games of last year with an ankle injury, and missed spring drills with a shoulder injury.

"My parents always preached to me and showed me that hard work is the key to being successful," Eugene said. "Whether or not we had everything we wanted, you had to work to even have a chance of getting it."

NC State spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009
5/07/09
9:15
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

North Carolina State Wolfpack

2008 overall record: 6-7

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters: Offense: 7, defense: 7, kicker/punter 1

Top returners: QB Russell Wilson, WR Owen Spencer, C Ted Larsen DT Alan Michael Cash, DE Willie Young, LB Nate Irving, PK Josh Czajkowski, TB Toney Baker, WR T.J. Graham, LB Ray Michel, TB Jamelle Eugene, CB DeAndre Morgan

Key losses: TE Anthony Hill, HB Andre Brown, S J.C. Neal, CB Jeremy Gray, DT Keith Willis, OG John Bedics, OG Meares Green

2008 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Andre Brown (767 yards)
Passing: Russell Wilson* (1,955 yards)
Receiving:
Owen Spencer* (691 yards)
Tackles:
Ray Michel* (85)
Sacks:
Willie Young* (6.5)
Interceptions:
Nate Irving* (4)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 South Carolina
Sept. 12 Murray State
Sept. 19 Gardner-Webb
Sept. 26 Pittsburgh
Oct. 3 at Wake Forest
Oct. 10 Duke
Oct. 17 at Boston College
Oct. 31 at Florida State
Nov. 7 Maryland
Nov. 14 Clemson
Nov. 21 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 28 North Carolina

Spring answers

1. Sweet relief. Mike Glennon impressed the coaching staff as the No. 2 quarterback this spring with his poise and arm strength and likely earned himself some playing time this fall. Glennon completed 23 of 38 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown in the Kay Yow Spring Game.

2. Hit me. Baker hadn't played in almost two years, let alone been hit, but he held up physically throughout the spring despite not being entirely 100 percent. He and Jamelle Eugene should help compensate for the loss of Brown.

3. Going the distance. Placekicker Josh Czajkowski could be a difference-maker this fall. He was accurate last year (16 of 19 field goals and 33 of 34 PATs), but improved his distance this spring. Czajkowki made a 52-yarder in one of the scrimmages.

Fall questions

1. Winning in September. NC State has made a push late in the schedule over the past two seasons, and has had a tendency to get off to a slow, injury-laden start. If the Wolfpack is going to be a legitimate contender in Tom O'Brien's third season, they'll have to get off to a faster start.

2. Staying power. Can Russell Wilson stay healthy and handle the spotlight of Year 1 while Glennon is itching to see some playing time? Wilson showed improvement this spring by working through his progressions better, but O'Brien said there could have been more progress had Wilson not spent part of the spring with the baseball team.

3. Walker's return. Can the Pack get safety Javon Walker back in secondary? Walker tore his ACL in the second-to-last game of 2008. As a freshman he was starting, but he missed the spring. He is expected back this fall and could be the best player in secondary.

ACC's lunchtime links: draft edition

April, 27, 2009
4/27/09
12:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Lotta action in the ACC this weekend, so I might also add an "ACC in the Afternoon" version of the links, too. Here are a few to get the week started:

  • Miami's streak of 14 years with a first-round draft pick ended, but Spencer Adkins kept another one alive.
  • When is the last time Florida State had just one player drafted? Andrew Carter has the answer.
  • Remember that Wake Forest recruiting class that got a collective "thumbs down?" Yeah, well, they're living a dream, now.
  • From euphoria to sucker punch, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey experienced it all on draft day.
  • North Carolina's Brandon Tate and NC State's Andre Brown went different directions, but both wound up happy.

What to watch in the ACC this spring

February, 11, 2009
2/11/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With Miami kicking off spring practice on Feb. 24, it's never too early to start thinking about spring football in the ACC. There are plenty of story lines heading into the 2009 season -- like backup quarterbacks and new coordinators.

Here are a few things to watch for each team in the ACC this spring:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

BOSTON COLLEGE
Spring practice starts:
March 17
Spring game: April 25

What to watch

  • Replacing 325-pound defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace will be a large challenge -- literally. Damik Scafe could be a starter, but beyond him it's anybody's guess.
  • Quarterback Dominique Davis only has three games of experience over everyone else, so it's definitely not a given that it's his job to lose. Davis was thrown into the fire at the end of 2008, but former coach Jeff Jagodzinski and former offensive coordinator Steve Logan liked freshman Justin Tuggle, who redshirted this past season. Whether the new staff is as high on Tuggle remains to be seen.
  • Including former defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, who was promoted to head coach, the Eagles will have six coaches in new positions this spring. With two new coordinators, a new offensive line coach, tight ends coach and a linebackers coach, this spring will be a chance for a few introductions.

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Pre-spring ACC power rankings

February, 9, 2009
2/09/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With the NFL departures announced, and signing day officially over, it's time for a re-ranking heading into spring football. Keep in mind things change during spring practice -- some players get hurt, some win position battles, but here's the first early peek at how the ACC might fare in 2009:

1. Virginia Tech -- The ACC and Orange Bowl champs return 16 starters, and there are high expectations for an offensive backfield that will contain shifty quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and tailbacks Darren Evans and Ryan Williams. If the defense maintains its tradition without Victor "Macho" Harris, the Hokies could be a top 10 team.

2. Florida State -- The defense took some hits -- the most notable being the loss of defensive end Everette Brown -- but should have enough experience to compensate for it. The offensive line should be one of the best in the conference and give returning quarterback Christian Ponder and tailback Jermaine Thomas plenty of help. The question is the depth at receiver after the loss of Preston Parker, Greg Carr, and probably Corey Surrency. FSU also loses Lou Groza award winner Graham Gano.

3. Georgia Tech -- Overall, this team will be experienced and deeper -- it will return every starter at the skill positions -- but the Yellow Jackets must reload on the defensive front and improve on the offensive line. There will be three new starters on the defensive line, and Tech lost two senior starters on the offensive line. There are 25 players on the roster, though, who have at least one career start.

4. Miami -- Coach Randy Shannon brought in yet another outstanding recruiting class, and playing so many true freshmen in 2008 should help this season. There shouldn't be any quarterback drama this season, and Jacory Harris should only improve under first-year coordinator Mark Whipple. Defensive coordinator is still a question mark, though.

5. North Carolina -- Never count out a Butch Davis-coached team, but the Tar Heels will be a question mark until a new batch of receivers proves otherwise. Brooks Foster, Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks accounted for 114 receptions in 2008, and all three have left for the NFL. Safety Trimane Goddard is arguably the biggest loss on defense.

6. NC State -- If the Pack stay healthy -- something they haven't been able to do for the past two seasons -- NC State could be the sleeper in the Atlantic Division. It has to replace tight end Anthony Hill and running back Andre Brown, though, and 2007 leading receiver Donald Bowens will miss spring practice because of knee surgery.

7. Clemson -- Speedy playmakers C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford are back, but they'll be under the direction of a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator. Let's see how the Tigers do without any expectations for a change.

8. Maryland -- The Terps graduated 30 seniors and junior receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey left for the NFL. One of the biggest question marks is how they'll fare up front after the graduation of three starting offensive linemen, including All-ACC center Edwin Williams. The defense, which loses four starters from its front seven, will be led by first-year coordinator Don Brown.

9. Wake Forest -- The good news for the Deacs is the offensive line should better, and they return veteran quarterback Riley Skinner. The bad news is they'll sorely miss some of the best defensive players the program has had in recent years, along with kicker Sam Swank.

10. Virginia -- If quarterback Jameel Sewell makes a smooth transition back into the lineup and quickly learns the new offense, the Cavs could surprise some people this season. They'll have to replace all three starters at linebacker, though, and will miss starting receivers Kevin Ogletree and Maurice Covington, as well as leading rusher Cedric Peerman.

11. Boston College -- Consider this a rebuilding year for the Eagles. The loss of defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace will have an effect up front. With a new staff, a small recruiting class and a young starting quarterback, the only direction for BC to head is up.

12. Duke -- The Blue Devils have arguably one of the league's top quarterbacks in Thaddeus Lewis, but he won't have Eron Riley to throw it to this season. Duke also loses ACC-leading tackler Michael Tauiliili at linebacker. Still, the Blue Devils should take another step forward in their second season under David Cutcliffe.

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 3, 2009
2/03/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The official invitation list for the NFL scouting combine is out, and there are plenty of ACC players who will participate in the four-day job interview in Indianapolis from Feb. 18-24. Just because a player didn't make the list doesn't mean he won't be drafted, but here are the ACC players by school who were invited to the combine:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Kevin Akins, cornerback/linebacker

Ron Brace, defensive tackle

B.J. Raji, defensive tackle

CLEMSON

Chris Clemons, safety

James Davis, running back

Michael Hamlin, safety

Cullen Harper, quarterback

Aaron Kelly, receiver

Dorell Scott, defensive tackle

FLORIDA STATE

Everette Brown, defensive end

Graham Gano, punter/placekicker

GEORGIA TECH

Andrew Gardner, offensive tackle

Michael Johnson, defensive end

Darryl Richard, defensive tackle

Vance Walker, defensive tackle

Jahi Word-Daniels, cornerback

MARYLAND

Kevin Barnes, cornerback

Moise Fokou, outside linebacker

Dan Gronkowski, tight end

Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver

Jaimie Thomas, offensive guard

Edwin Williams, center

MIAMI

Bruce Johnson, cornerback

NORTH CAROLINA

Brooks Foster, wide receiver

Hakeem Nicks, wide recevier

Richard Quinn, tight end

Garrett Reynolds, offensive tackle

Brandon Tate, wide receiver

NC STATE

Andre Brown, running back

Anthony Hill, tight end

VIRGINIA

Eugene Monroe, offensive tackle

Kevin Ogletree, wide receiver

Cedric Peerman, tailback

John Phillips, tight end

Clint Sintim, linebacker

VIRGINIA TECH

Victor "Macho" Harris, cornerback

Orion Martin, defensive end

WAKE FOREST

Stanley Arnoux, linebacker

Aaron Curry, linebacker

Alphonso Smith, cornerback

Sam Swank, punter/placekicker

Chip Vaughn, safety

Weekend rewind: Senior Bowl

January, 26, 2009
1/26/09
2:12
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

For those of you who missed the Under Armour Senior Bowl this past weekend, here's a quick look at how some of the ACC players fared:

Virginia tailback Cedric Peerman: Led the North team with five carries for 34 yards, and had a fumble

NC State running back Andre Brown: 10 carries, 31 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run; caught two passes for 41 yards. Led South team with 72 all-purpose yards.

Clemson running back James Davis: Nine carries, 32 yards

Florida State running back Antone Smith: Two carries, 7 yards

Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper: Completed 2 of 5 passes for 44 yards (one was 32 yards long) and made one tackle

FSU receiver Greg Carr: Caught one pass for 9 yards

Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim: Five unassisted, one assisted tackle (fourth on the North team). Had one tackle for a loss of 2 yards.

Boston College defensive tackle Ron Brace: Two assisted tackles

Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji: One unassisted tackle

Clemson safety Michael Hamlin: Four unassisted, one assisted tackle

Wake Forest safety Chip Vaughn: Two tackles

Virginia Tech corner back Victor "Macho" Harris: One punt return for 10 yards

Peerman, Brown, Raji, Harris, Vaughn and Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith were all starters.

Best of luck to these guys and the other ACC seniors in this year's class, whether their next step is on the field or off.

NC State recruiting needs

January, 14, 2009
1/14/09
1:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

As he enters his third season in Raleigh, coach Tom O'Brien is close to reaching his recruiting goal of bringing in a balanced class every February instead of focusing on certain positions.

Ideally, the Pack would like to add four offensive linemen, four defensive backs, three linebackers, four defensive linemen, a quarterback and a tailback in every class, but defense was the main priority in this year's recruiting class. The biggest names they'll have to replace are on offense, where running back Andre Brown and tight end Anthony Hill will be graduating.

While NC State enters 2009 with arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Russell Wilson, Mike Glennon provides the only legitimate depth behind him, and if Wilson has another injury-laden season, Glennon won't have to wait long for his shot.

Of the 19 seniors departing, nine are from the defense, and both lines will lose key contributors, including offensive linemen Meares Green and John Bedics. The staff has gone after several recruits for the defensive line, as it loses Keith Willis Jr. and Antoine Holmes, and all four starters on the defensive line might be seniors next season. There's not a lot of young depth behind them right now.

The secondary will also take a hit with the departure of Jeremy Gray and J.C. Neal, and the Pack will need a replacement for Robbie Leonard at linebacker.

ACC will have 18 in Under Armour Senior Bowl

January, 12, 2009
1/12/09
4:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

I just received the final list of ACC players who will participate in the Under Armour Senior Bowl on Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala., and the newest release includes four players from Virginia. It's only fitting that more than half of these bowl-bound players are defenders.

Here is the final list:

Boston College: defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace

Clemson: Cullen Harper, quarterback; James Davis, running back; Michael Hamlin, safety

Georgia Tech: Vance Walker, defensive tackle; Michael Johnson, defensive end

North Carolina: Brooks Foster, wide receiver

North Carolina St.: Anthony Hill, tight end; Andre Brown, running back

Virginia: Eugene Monroe, left tackle; Cedric Peerman, running back; John Phillips, tight end; Clint Sintim, linebacker

Virginia Tech: Macho Harris, corner

Wake Forest: Aaron Curry, linebacker; Alphonso Smith, cornerback; Chip Vaughn, safety

ACC represents in Senior Bowl

January, 5, 2009
1/05/09
10:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The ACC will be well-represented in the Jan. 24 Under Armour Senior Bowl in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. From what I know, the only school with players yet to be announced is Virginia, and those names should be released in about a week. Here is the most current ACC list:

BC: Defensive tackle B.J. Raji

CLEMSON: Running back James Davis, safety Michael Hamlin, quarterback Cullen Harper

GEORGIA TECH: Defensive end Michael Johnson, defensive tackle Vance Walker

NCSU: Running back Andre Brown, tight end Anthony Hill

UNC: Wide receiver Brooks Foster

VIRGINIA TECH: Cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris, and possibly one more.

WAKE FOREST: Linebacker Aaron Curry, cornerback Alphonso Smith, safety Chip Vaughn

Papajohns.com Bowl: NC State (6-6) vs. Rutgers (7-5)

December, 7, 2008
12/07/08
11:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Both of these teams made their turnarounds in the second half of the season. This is not the same Rutgers team that UNC beat in Piscataway on Sept. 11. This version of quarterback Mike Teel is much better. After losing five of their first six games, the Scarlet Knights finished the season on a six-game win streak. Rutgers is No. 2 in the Big East in total offense, and Teel has 3,099 yards and 23 touchdowns. NC State was plagued by injuries this season, but reeled off four straight wins to sneak into a bowl game.

The difference for the Wolfpack was also at quarterback, where Russell Wilson's mobility has caused opposing defenses headaches. He enters the postseason on a school-record streak of 226 passes without an interception, the longest in the nation. He has thrown 16 touchdowns and no interceptions in his past eight starts. Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene have helped by getting the ground game going, and the defense has improved significantly in recent weeks.

NC State taking on 'BCS busters'

September, 19, 2008
9/19/08
3:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The success swirling around the East Carolina football team may be taking some by surprise, but not North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien.  During the offseason, he sensed the Pirates "felt this was going to be their year."

After watching game film to prepare for Saturday's noon game against No. 15-ranked ECU, O'Brien realized it's practically the same team the Wolfpack beat a year ago, 34-20.

Only better.

"They're all a year older, there's a lot of two and three-year veterans that are playing," O'Brien said. "They've grown as a football program. ... This is their year. ... They're deserving of every ranking they have, and they're on their way to being the BCS buster this year."

The heavyweights of Conference USA have already knocked off Virginia Tech and will make it difficult for NC State to make a similar turnaround like it did in 2007, when the Wolfpack's win over ECU was a springboard to a four-game winning streak. So far, NC State hasn't scored an offensive touchdown against an FBS opponent. There are just too many injuries to key players to think the offense will make a quantum leap anytime soon.

It will help, though, that quarterback Russell Wilson will be playing his second game after suffering a severe concussion in the season opener.

"We expect to see some improvement out of him and that will help us as the offense moves on," O'Brien said.

ECU's quarterback, Patrick Pinkney, will be a challenge for even this defense to contain. After being used in a two-quarterback system in 2007 with Rob Kass, Pinkney separated himself this spring and is now running the offense. Pinkney's 19-of-23 passing performance against Virginia Tech in the season opener established a new school single-game record for completion percentage.

"He's the most improved player from a year ago," O'Brien said. "When we played them a year ago, he may have played one series and didn't play much at all. ... He's done a great job passing the ball. I don't think he had that reputation a year ago. You look at what he's done in the pocket, throwing the football, he can extend plays if the protection breaks down, and he can certainly pull the ball down and run with it. He's the guy their whole off centers around, and he's the guy you have to certainly account for every play on defense."

One highlight for the Wolfpack's offense has been Andre Brown, one of the few playmakers who is finally healthy. He is averaging 69.3 yards per carry and happens to be from Greenville, N.C., home of the Pirates.

"He's a much more powerful runner, a much more decisive runner, heading toward the goal line, not as much bouncing, running to the outside, trying to outrun everybody," O'Brien said. "He understands we have to head North and South, and soon enough in the game those big play opportunities will come."

NC State would be fortunate if a few of them came on Saturday against this year's "BCS busters."

NC State's Jamelle Eugene to miss season opener

August, 26, 2008
8/26/08
7:51
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This is not good news for the Pack. Not against South Carolina.

NC State coach Tom O'Brien said Tuesday that running back Jamelle Eugene, the team's top returning rusher, will miss the season opener with an ankle injury. He'll be replaced by senior Andre Brown.

Also out is junior Toney Baker, NC State's leading rusher in 2006. Baker is still recovering from preseason knee surgery.

The other interesting tidbit to come out of Raleigh on Tuesday was that O'Brien is considering using quarterback Russell Wilson as a punt returner.

NC State's Jamelle Eugene on pressure

July, 30, 2008
7/30/08
3:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

NC State running back Jamelle Eugene has a little saying he likes to use when people ask him about pressure: "Pressure can bust pipes or it can make diamonds," he said. "I see a whole bunch of diamonds at the running back positions."

He's not the only one.

While questions abound in Raleigh, the only one surrounding the running backs is which one of the three returning starters will emerge as the main man. So far, it's Eugene's job to lose -- he earned it last year.

Eugene started the final six games of last season after injuries to juniors Toney Baker and Andre Brown, both 1,000-yard rushers. Eugene had three 100-yard games and finished the season with 172 carries for 667 yards and five touchdowns.

Now they're all healthy, and the Wolfpack just might need all of them if they're going to improve upon last year's mark of 89.2 rushing yards per game -- the second-worst in the ACC.

"We all came in together and we're all competitors and everybody's, respectively, had their shot at one point or another," Eugene said. "With everybody healthy, that should just mean we're going to be deep in the running back position and NC State is going to be dependable. I feel like coach knows he can plug any one of us in and whoever is the hot hand at the time is going to play."

NC State position battles

July, 18, 2008
7/18/08
11:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

We're almost through the league, as I break down the remaining spots up for grabs at each school. Today it's the Wolfpack's turn. Here's a look at the position battles to watch this summer in Raleigh:

Quarterback -- Returning starters Harrison Beck and Daniel Evans haven't been counted out just yet, although Evans missed some time this spring after shoulder surgery. Russell Wilson had a promising spring, but has spent his career thus far on the scout team. Justin Burke also got a fair amount of reps in the spring. There are also high expectations for true freshman Mike Glennon, who hasn't taken an official practice snap yet.

Running back -- Yes, there is talent and experience here, but will anyone separate himself? Two guys return with more than 1,000 career rushing yards in Toney Baker and Andre Brown, and Jamelle Eugene rushed for 667 last year with five touchdowns. He started the last six games of the season and averaged 83.8 yards a game in the last seven games.

Offensive line -- There are three returning starters, but it's still a work in progress. Former defensive linemen Ted Larsen (center) and John Bedics (left guard) are penciled in as starters, but neither of them has taken a snap on offense yet in a college game. Jake Vermiglio moved to guard behind Bedics. Andy Barbee, a redshirt junior, was a longtime backup at center.

Linebacker -- All three linebacker spots could be wide open. The surest thing to a lock might be weakside linebacker Nate Irving, who started four of the last five games. Middle linebacker Ray Michel started the last game of 2007 and has played in 24 games in his two years. He has the most game experience of the top six on the depth chart at the three linebacker spots. Thomas Barnes played in 10 games last year as a backup and scored a touchdown on his third collegiate snap (against Wofford on a fumble return).

Safety -- Four players are after two spots. Two redshirt-freshmen -- Justin Byers and Jimmaul Simmons -- are competing with J.C. Neal and Javon Walker, who both have legitimate experience.

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