Friday, November 27, 2009

O'Brien grateful to N.C. State seniors

During a phone conversation with coach Tom O'Brien earlier this week, ailing N.C. State offensive coordinator Dana Bible paid tribute to the Wolfpack seniors.

"You know, as bad as it has been, these kids have fought through everything," O'Brien said Bible told him while undergoing treatment for leukemia in Chapel Hill.

Seventeen N.C. State seniors will exhaust their eligibility Saturday when the Wolfpack (4-7, 1-6 ACC) plays its season finale against rival North Carolina (8-3, 4-3). In many ways, their career hasn't proceeded the way they'd hoped.

The coach who recruited most of them, Chuck Amato, was fired after the 2006 season. The Wolfpack hasn't posted a winning record in any season since 2005.

"They've been really through a tough period of time," O'Brien said. "I don't think there's any question that it hasn't gone exactly how they wanted to. But they've hung in there. They've persevered. They haven't been down at all. "

Fourteen of the team's seniors (not counting running back Toney Baker, who's eligible for a sixth year because of injury) have started at least one game during their careers.

Ten are current starters. The leaders include:

- Defensive end Willie Young, who ranks third in school history in tackles for loss.

- Offensive guard Julian Williams, a three-year starter.

- Defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash, who has 23 career tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

- Center Ted Larsen, who along with Young has a good shot at continuing his football career in the NFL.

- Running back Jamelle Eugene, who has 1,445 yards rushing and 679 receiving yards in his career.

- Linebacker Ray Michel, who led the team in tackles in 2008 and was the 2009 leader before he suffered an ankle injury that slowed him for the second half of the season.

- Safety Clem Johnson, the team's second-leading tackler.

N.C. State has seen a lot of production from this group. Three offensive linemen who have been starters for the last two seasons will be gone after today. So will the entire starting defensive line.

During difficult times, they have also contributed as much with their character, according to their coach.

"I think because of them, I think the rest of the team has stayed together and played hard," O'Brien said. "That will be a great contribution (for the future)."

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

O'Brien showed his ability to coach under duress and beat his biggest state rival by doing so. He wasn't tentative or played scared like his NC rivals. State has a program on the rise, unlike NC, who continues to disappoint.

Tarheel Paul said...

O'Brien can thank Jack Childress and the refs for giving him the game on a silver platter. The ACC has the worst refs in America. By the way if State is a program on he rise where is your Bowl game ?
Oh thats right you only won 5 games and two of those were to Division 2 teams.
See you on the hardwood where we will see who continues to disappoint.