- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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NC State coach Dave Doeren will not have all his freshmen on campus until this summer, but he already expects several incoming receivers and running backs to play in 2013.
Depth concerns and a shift in offensively philosophy mean Doeren needs more bodies at each position.
Start at receiver. There is experience and talent at the top of the depth chart. Though NC State loses all-purpose man Tobais Palmer, it also returns Quintin Payton (tops in receiving yards with 798); Bryan Underwood (10 touchdowns, 620 yards), and Rashard Smith (315 yards, five touchdowns).
Behind them, there are major questions. So you understand why the Wolfpack signed six receivers in February. One of them, Bra'lon Cherry, is already enrolled and will benefit from spring practice. Johnathan Alston, who arrives in the summer, was the second-highest rated prospect in the entire NC State class.
"We’ll have some young receivers playing, there’s no doubt," Doeren said in a recent phone interview.
Then at running back, there is little in the way of depth behind Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy, the team's top two rushers a year ago. NC State signed three running backs, and they all arrive in the summer as well -- Josh Mercer, Dakwa Nichols and Matt Dayes.
"Thornton and Creecy are both good, tough runners and they’re both skilled receivers out of the backfield. They’ll be great in this offense," Doeren said. "The bigger concern is the lack of people behind them. We signed three in this class, and all three will be in camp getting reps. I wouldn’t be surprised to see two of the three play, just because of what we do. There will be times when there’s two or sometimes three tailbacks in the game. We need all those guys to be ready."