Aug. 23, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - In today's unveiling of the Pack's season opening depth chart, GoPack.com takes a look at the fullbacks/tight ends and the safeties.
Fullbacks coach Eddie Faulkner returns his starter from a year ago in graduate Tyler Purvis and another experience player in Devin O'Connor. Freshman Jaylen Samuels has turned heads in fall camp with his physicality and brings another dimension to the position.
Starter: Tyler Purvis (6-2, 231, *Gr.)
- Post-graduate who posts one of the highest GPAs on the squad and was an Academic All-ACC performer.
- Started six contests last season and caught a dozen passes.
Backup: Jaylen Samuels (5-11, 240, Fr.)
- Strong, powerful runner who scored a touchdown every 2.8 times he touched the football (59 total) as a senior in high school.
Backup: Devin O'Connor (6-3, 236, *So.)
- Former walkon who played mostly on special teams a year ago.
- Earned a scholarship this fall.
Faulkner on the fullbacks: "All three of those guys have a particular package and role where they can get in the game. They all have particular strengths. Tyler Purvis is steady-eddy. He knows what he's doing and we trust him. He makes plays. Jaylen is continuing to learn but he's really talented. Devin is more of a run-game type guy for us. "
The tight ends will also benefit from the return of an experienced player, David J. Grinnage, as well as graduate Benson Browne, who has gained a wealth of football knowledge in his four years with the program. Tight ends coach Eddie Faulkner says each player brings a different strength and will be in the game based on the personnel.
Benson Browne (6-5, 270, *Gr (Jr.))
- Another offensive starter who has already earned his degree, he had one of the best offseasons on the team.
David J. Grinnage (6-5, 269, *So.)
- Started seven games last season, catching 15 passes.
Reserve: Cole Cook (6-6, 232, Fr.)
- Played in a run-first offense in high school.
Faulkner on the tight ends: "Those guys have different packages. It depends on what scenario we're in. Benson is really good in the run game and David might be a little strong in the passing game, but they both can do either/or. Cole gets better every day and will continue to be more relative as the season goes. "
The safety position boasts a good combination of youth and experience, with one of the team's oldest players and some of the youngest. A proven starter returns for safeties coach Clayton White at free safety, while new starters will be manning the free and nickel spots.
Starter: Josh Jones (6-2, 212, *Fr.)
- Strong player who redshirted the 2013 campaign at safety and linebacker.
White on Jones: "Josh Jones bring versatility, speed, athleticism and has big play potential. He's probably the most athletic guys in our group."
Backup: Jarvis Byrd (5-10, 190, *Gr.)
- Inspirational leader who has come back from three ACL surgeries after earning a sixth year of eligibility.
- Has seen action in 14 games over the course of five seasons.
White on Byrd: "Jarvis is still working his way back into optimal playing condition, but he knows so much. He's a good tackler and he's very versatile. He's a great cover safety - a corner with a safety's physical tools. We have a really young group and he keeps it in check. Jarvis doesn't mind calling guys out."
Reserve: Shawn Boone (5-10, 184, Fr.)
- Three-year starter who helped lead his HS team to the Florida 7A state title.
White on Boone: "Shawn is a young Jarvis. He's way past a lot of guys his age in terms of his football IQ. He takes great angles and is a smart football player. He's very physical too."
Starter: Hakim Jones (6-2, 205, *Jr.)
- Returning starter who is the team's second-leading returning tackler.
White on Jones: "Hakim Jones is the captain back there. He brings the most experience in our group. He's a sure tackler, but the main thing he brings is experience. He's a very smart, high-football IQ guy."
Backup: Germaine Pratt (6-3, 230, Fr.)
- Graduated early and joined the team in January, he has gained 30+ pounds since arriving on campus.
White on Pratt: "Pratt brings physicality to the position. He's a playmaker with great instincts and he's another sure tackler. He can make tackles at the line of scrimmage."
Starter: Tim Buckley (6-0, 197, *Jr.) or Dravious Wright (5-10, 206, So.)
- Local player who played in a dozen games last season, starting one at the nickel.
White on Buckley: "Buckley does a great job in the slot covering, he does a great job in the run game and he's a good blitzer. He really studies the game and his opponents."
- Hard-hitting young player who played in every game last season - mainly on special teams.
White on Wright: "Dra is an effort guy who plays very hard. He takes no plays off and gives it all he has. We have to rein in his enthusiasm at times."
Backup: Josh Sessoms (6-2, 200, *So.)
- Competed with the scout squad last season.
White on Sessoms: "Josh is probably the most improved DB that we have this fall. He's another long kid who likes to tackle. I'm excited for him to play. "