Early Signing Day primer: What you need to know about NC State's 2023 class
NC State currently is a veteran-led team, but that is about to change. That being said, the 2023 recruiting class is crucial.
Heading into Wednesday’s Early Signing Day, the Wolfpack boasts the 37th-rated class nationally and the 7th-best class in the ACC — behind Miami, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia Tech.
Here is a rundown of the class, and how much of an impact the incoming freshmen will have in 2023 and beyond.
Highest-rated player: Safety, Daemon Fagan, 4-star
Via football factory American Heritage High in south Florida, Daemon Fagan is 59th in the state of Florida and the 27th-best safety prospect in this class. He has the requisite frame (6-foot-2.5 and 180 pounds), ball skills and instincts to contribute early in Raleigh.
Holding off Ohio State for Fagan’s services is crucial for coach Dave Doeren and his staff. According to the latest 247Sports Crystal Ball Predictions, there is a 33.3% chance Fagan flips to the Buckeyes. NC State remains the favorite, but this is a commitment to keep an eye on.
Did they bolster the quarterback room?: Yes
Lex Thomas, a 3-star quarterback from Wake Forest, NC, is the sole commitment at his position in this Wolfpack class. While it is unlikely, with MJ Morris and Ben Finley returning, that Thomas will see meaningful game action in 2023, injuries always could throw a curveball.
Thomas has to tighten up his release, but his accuracy makes up for an undersized frame (5-11 and 193 pounds). The Heritage High product will be an interesting case study, considering NC State’s propensity for big, strong signal-callers under Doeren.
Best position group: cornerback
The Wolfpack dipped into the high school and junior-college pipelines to bolster this unit, as 3-stars Brandon Sisse (Sumter, S.C.) and Terrente Hinton (Hutchinson Community College) are hard commits. The pair figure to help out in the back end, which allowed nearly 223 yards per contest — the relative weak spot of NC State’s top-notch defense.
Aydan White and Shyheim Battle are excellent corners, but safeties Cyrus Fagan, Tanner Ingle and nickel Tyler Baker-Williams all could leave town after the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Dec. 30. That makes the additions of Sisse and Hinton, and the flexibility they offer the coaching staff, extremely important.
Biggest need filled: linebacker
The 3-headed monster of Isaiah Moore, Drake Thomas and Payton Wilson very well could be history after this season, as all participated in Senior Day festivities before the Boston College contest — despite Thomas and Wilson retaining at least a year each of eligibility. So help could be sorely needed at linebacker.
Enter Kamal Bonner and Kelvon McBride, a pair of 3-star prospects. Filling the shoes of the aforementioned trio immediately is virtually impossible, but with time, those 2 newcomers could be up to the task. After all, Moore and Thomas were 3-stars out of high school, and Wilson was a 4-star prospect and the 4th-best player in the state of North Carolina.
Biggest potential flip: Linebacker, Kamal Bonner, 3-star
According to 247Sports’ latest Crystal Ball, there is a 50% chance Bonner flips to ACC rival Georgia Tech. Considering the void about to be left at linebacker, and the implications of losing a recruit to a 1st-year head coach in Brent Key, and this is not a loss the Wolfpack can afford.
This certainly is an announcement to watch intently, as it pits ACC programs at different stages of their respective processes against each other. Plus, Bonner is a top-100 prospect in the state of Georgia, a talent-rich hotbed.
NC State is not in the midst of any sort of rebuild, considering it has won 8 games in each of the past 3 seasons. However, this class has the potential to contribute both in the immediate and long term.
Plus, the wide reach of Doeren and his staff is on display, as this class consists of recruits via the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Kansas. Add in transfers Dawson Jaramillo (offensive tackle, Oregon) and Dacari Collins (wide receiver, Clemson), and this is a diverse class that could provide an array of playmakers.