Spring Practice Primer: N.C. State

Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at N.C. State.

Spring Practice Starts: March 23

Spring Game: Saturday, April 21

Three things to look for:

1. Looking for new leaders at linebacker. For the last two seasons the heart of the N.C. State defense has been at the linebacker position. Cornerback David Amerson haunted quarterbacks during his record-setting 2011 season, but it has been players like Nate Irving, Terrell Manning, and Audie Cole that have led the Wolfpack defensively in back-to-back 8 win seasons. With Cole graduating, Manning turning pro early, and D.J. Green suspended for all of 2012 for use of a banned substance; N.C. State must find three new starting linebackers for 2012. The early expectations will fall on fifth-year senior Sterling Lucas, but also look for sophomores Michael Peek and Brandon Pittman to make their case as potential starters this spring.

2. Continued maturation of Mike Glennon. One year ago, Glennon was the No. 1 quarterback at spring practice while Russell Wilson contemplated his future off the field. After throwing for 3,054 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2011, not to mention an MVP performance in the 31-24 Belk Bowl win over Louisville, Glennon is the undisputed leader of the Wolfpack offense. Head coach Tom O'Brien credits the extra bowl practices and Glennon's performance in the win as key factors in the quarterback's improvement. Glennon's challenge now is to lead a new crop of wide receivers, with only Tobias Palmer (37 catches, 496 yards, five touchdowns) returning from last year's starters.

3. Rashard Smith and wide receiver depth. While Glennon enters the season poised for a breakout year, his list of targets took a hit with three of the top four receivers from 2011 graduating. Tom O'Brien and the staff began working out defensive back Rashard Smith at wide receiver in practice last season, due to a shortage at wide receiver and surplus of players in the secondary. Considered one of the best athletes on N.C. State's roster, Smith should have an opportunity to compete for a starting job opposite senior Tobias Palmer. With T.J. Graham, Jay Smith, and tight end George Bryan all gone, there should be plenty of chances for Smith to earn a decent share of looks from Glennon.

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CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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