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Jim Ritcher Jersey Retro

With NC State left out of the bowls this season, the book can officially be closed on its football history for the decade of the 2010s.

It’s been an eventful 10 seasons, with some high highs and — as was the case this year — some disappointing lows. Along the way, some unforgettable players suited up for the Wolfpack.

In honor of their achievements, SI Wolfpack Maven has compiled a list of the best of the best at each position in the form of an All-Decade team for the 2010s.

Here is the offense:

Quarterback
Russell Wilson (2010): Other Wolfpack quarterbacks may have compiled better numbers during the decade than Wilson, but none of them — Mike Glennon, Jacoby Brissett or Ryan Finley — had had the impact and continue have an impact on State’s program than the current Seattle Seahawks star. Wilson threw for 3,563 yards and 28 touchdowns while also rushing for nine scores in leading his team to nine victories — including a 23-7 win against West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. Factoring in Wilson’s other two seasons in the previous decade, he still ranks among the top four in school history in passing yards, completions and touchdowns.

Running back
Matt Dayes (2013-16): Dayes wasn’t the flashiest of runners, although he did have the speed to outrun defenses when he got into the open field — as he did on an 85-yard touchdown run against Wake Forest and a 77-yard gain against South Alabama in 2015. The 5-foot-9, 213-pound Floriday native had only one 1,000-yard season, rushing for 1,166 yards as a senior in 2016. But he ranks second on State’s all-time list with 34 career rushing touchdowns, fourth with 13 career 100-yard games and fourth with 2,856 yards on the ground in his four seasons. He was also an effective receiver out of the backfield, catching 98 passes for 937 yards and six scores.

Running back/Slot receiver
Nyheim Hines (2015-17): Undersized, but lightning quick, Hines was first utilized primarily as a slot receiver and kick returner upon his arrival to State. He eventually transitioned back to his natural running back position and despite concerns about his size and the wear-and-tear of being an every down back, he went on to earn first team All-ACC and second team All-American honors during his junior season. Hines rushed for 1,112 yards and 12 touchdowns during that 2017 season, adding 26 catches for 152 yards and scoring a touchdown on a 100-yard kickoff return to help the Wolfpack to the first of two straight nine-win seasons before leaving early to enter the NFL draft. He currently plays for the Indianapolis Colts.

Wide receiver
Kelvin Harmon (2016-18): Hall of Famer Torry Holt is still the gold standard when it comes to Wolfpack pass catchers, but when it comes to the current century in general — and the past decade in particular — no one has been better than Harmon. Despite playing only three seasons, he ranks third on the school’s all-time list with 177 career receptions and 2,665 receiving yards. His 15 receptions in a 2018 win against Wake Forest is tied for the most ever in a game by a Wolfpack receiver. The key to Harmon’s success was a pair of the surest hands around. He was so relieable that quarterback Ryan Finley said that 50-50 balls thrown in his direction were more like 90-10 balls because he’s always find a way to get his hands on the pass and hold onto it regardless of the contact.

Jakobi Meyers (2016-18): Meyers started his Wolfpack career as a quarterback, but he enjoyed his most success as a receiver. After catching only seven passes in his first season following the switch, he increased his total to 63 for 727 and five touchdowns in 2017 before blossoming in his final season at State. Meyers set set a school record with 92 catches in 2018., surpassing Holt’s old single-season mark of 88 that had stood for 20 years. Although he went undrafted after leaving following his junior year, he was signed as a free agent and has become a key member of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Tight end
George Bryan (2008-11): Bryan was supposed to have redshirted as a freshman, but just two games and injuries to the two tight ends ahead of him on the depth chart, he found himself in the starting lineup — against Clemson, no less. He went on to start seven games that season, kickstarting a career that led to two first-team All-ACC selections and 126 receptions, a school record for tight ends. He also holds the career marks at his position for receiving yards (1,323) and touchdowns (17).

All-purpose
Jaylen Samuels (2014-17): You’ve heard the old saying that a jack of all trades is a master of none. Samuels, however, was the opposite. He was a jack of all trades that mastered them all — so much so that the ACC added an “all-purpose” category to its all-conference team to answer the question of whether the Wolfpack star should be considered a tight end, H-back, running back or wide receiver. A third-team All-American as a tight end in his senior season of 2017, Samuels finished his career as State’s all-time receptions leader with 202. He amassed 1,851 receiving yards, 1,107 rushing yards and 47 total touchdowns, second only to Hall of Famer Ted Brown on the school’s career list.

Tackle
Joe Thuney (2012-15): Thuney started his career as the understudy to Cameron Wentz at center, but spent the rest of his career switching back and forth between guard and tackle. He started at left guard for the majority of his junior season and was moved to left tackle for his senior year, where he became the first State offensive lineman since Hall of Famer Jim Ritcher in 1979 to earn first-team All-American honors. Thuney played every down of every game against ACC opponents in 2015 and did not allow a sack in 589 snaps as a left tackle. He was drafted in the third round by the Patriots, immediately won a starting job at guard and is the first player in NFL history to start Super Bowls in each of his first three seasons as a pro.

R.J. Mattes (2010-12): A four-year starter, primarly at left tackle, Mattes overcame a series of injuries early in his career to become one of the most dependable and durable offensive linemen during the decade. As a sophomore in 2010, he posted the highest grade on the offensive line in eight of the 11 games in which he played — that includes a game against Maryland in which he was on the field for an incredible 100 snaps. He played most of his junior season through a painful foot injury that required surgery in the offseason, but still managed to record 823 snaps. His best season came in 2012, when was selected to the All-ACC second team by both the media and coaches.

Guard
Terrone Prescod (2015-18): Big T, as he was known, earned first-team All-American honors as a senior in 2018, a season in which he recorded 33 knockdown blocks and didn’t allow a sack while opening the holes for 1,000-yard rusher Nyheim Hines. He had even more knockdowns (48) as a junior while serving as part of a Wolfpack offensive line that ranked among the nation’s leaders in fewest sacks allowed.

Tony Adams (2014-17): A two-time All-ACC performer, the 6-foot-2, 322-pound guard started 35 games and was on the field fof 2,472 career snaps for the Wolfpack. He played 93 percent of State’s offensive snaps as a junior in 2016, recording 34 knockdown blocks and not allowing a snap while opening holes in the running game for the likes of Shadrach Thornton, Matt Dayes, Nyheim Hines and Jaylen Samuels.. In addition to his work on the field, Adams also won State’s Community Service Award in 2015.
Jim Ritcher Jersey Retro

Center
Garrett Bradbury (2015-18): The 2018 winner of the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center and a finalist for the Outland Trophy as college football’s top lineman, Bradbury is among the most decorated players in Wolfpack history. He was also a consensus first-team All-America for a senior season in which he played 1,026 snaps, recorded 34 knockdown blocks and didn’t allow a sack. Not bad for a player who arrived at State as a 250-pound tight end and also spent time as a guard. Bradbury was taken by the Minnesota Vikings with the 18th overall pick of last spring’s NFL draft and has immediately moved into the starting lineup for the Super Bowl contenders.

Check back tomorrow for the announcement of State’s All-Decade Special Teams.

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