Friday, August 8, 2008

Wolfpack's Eugene is bigger, faster and bashful

Jamelle Eugene doesn’t enjoy talking with reporters.

At the end of practice, the shy N.C. State tailback has been known to try to use some tall bushes as cover to sneak away when he knows reporters are looking for him.

He couldn’t elude the watchful eyes of sports information assistant Pat Norris on Thursday, and reluctantly gave a brief synopsis of preseason camp from his perspective.

Eugene said he weighed about 193 pounds last season when he took over for the injured Andre Brown and had a strong finish. Now Eugene is up to 202 pounds.

Although he missed the day when N.C. State tested players’ 40-yard dash times because he had his wisdom teeth removed, he said he is faster, too.

“I got bigger, stronger and faster,” he said. “My mental game is on point and I have greater knowledge for the game than I did last year.”

He entered camp as the starting tailback and appears to be seeing less competition than expected. Brown is back, but Toney Baker is returning from knee surgery and missed the opening scrimmage because he has been held out of contact work.

Eugene also could play a more active role returning punts and kickoffs after the departure of 2007 special teams stalwart Darrell Blackman. Eugene has been staying after practice working on catching kicks, though he doesn’t know what his role will be.

“I’m just going out there taking every rep and every snap like I’m the starter on the special teams and offense,” he said.

If he can sneak out of practice without talking about it, he’s happy.

– Ken Tysiac