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N.C. State's QB competition nearing end

Daniel Evans figures he's ready for anything.

Heading into today's final N.C. State preseason scrimmage, the senior returning starter remains in a tight competition for the quarterback job with redshirt freshman Russell Wilson and freshman Mike Glennon.

In 17 career starts at State, Evans has produced six wins. And he was benched after the season-opening loss to Central Florida last season but returned later to spark a four-game winning streak.

"I'm not sure there's a whole lot that could happen to me as far as winning and losing or being benched, starting or not starting, that I haven't been through already," Evans said.

That experience might be Evans' biggest advantage. Wilson is faster, and Glennon is taller and more ideally suited for coach Tom O'Brien's pro-style offense.

Since the departure of ACC career passing leader Philip Rivers after the 2003 season, N.C. State's quarterbacks have been a constant source of frustration.

Over the past four seasons, Wolfpack players have combined for 48 touchdown passes -- and 69 interceptions.

The few bright spots, such as a winning drive directed by senior Daniel Evans in 2006 against Boston College, have been overshadowed by failures.

The urgency of finding a credible starting quarterback is heightened because there are other, significant questions about the offensive line, wide receivers, linebackers and safeties heading into the Aug. 28 season-opener at South Carolina.

Already, this quarterback competition has led to casualties. Junior Harrison Beck, who started four games last season, and sophomore Justin Burke have been ruled out as potential starters after competing early on. Coach Tom O'Brien announced Monday evening that Burke will transfer to Louisville.

O'Brien has kept much of his thinking about the quarterbacking a secret. But soon enough, he'll have to choose a starter.

Here's a look at the contenders:

THE VETERAN

Daniel Evans, the son of former N.C. State All-American Johnny Evans, said he can make every throw he needs to make after having shoulder surgery that caused him to miss spring practice.

The coaches praise his ability to manage the game and deliver the ball.

"He has a much better knowledge of the offense than the other two youngsters because he's been in it," O'Brien said.

The question is whether Evans will be the same player who helped the Wolfpack win four in a row last season or the guy who led an offense that was shut out at home by Maryland with a bowl bid on the line in the season finale.

His completion percentage improved to a respectable .572 last season, but he still threw more interceptions (12) than touchdown passes (11).

O'Brien knows what he's getting from Evans.

But is it enough?

THE PRODIGY

It seemed as if the plan coming into training camp was to redshirt Mike Glennon.

But the coaches have been impressed with how well he has performed.

"It's amazing that he's been able to accomplish what he has thus far given all the things we've asked of him," O'Brien said. "It speaks to what type of person he is."

Glennon, who was one of the top prospects in the nation at Westfield High in Chantilly, Va., looks like N.C. State's quarterback of the future.

His height, at 6 feet 6, strong arm and background in a high school pro-style offense make him a natural dropback passer. The decision O'Brien must make is whether Glennon is ready to face college defenses at full speed.

If not, he probably will redshirt.

THE DUAL THREAT

Before training camp, O'Brien said he thought redshirt freshman Russell Wilson would be offended by the suggestion that he is a different type of quarterback from freshman Mike Glennon.

O'Brien said Wilson is comfortable in the pocket, too. But there is no doubt that their skills and statures are different.

Wilson is seven inches shorter than Glennon. Wilson's nimble feet helped him bat .296 as a second baseman for N.C. State's baseball team and might be an asset if the offensive line is shaky and the pocket collapses.

"I feel like I've got certain talents, and I use them to the best of my ability," Wilson said.

One of the most frequent player hosts for official visits during recruiting season, Wilson is dependable and trustworthy almost to a fault.

During a media day interview Saturday, Wilson deferred to O'Brien even on the most innocent questions, such as when the team was informed of Donald Bowens' season-ending injury.

At the very least, Wilson gives the coaches a talented athlete willing to do whatever they ask.

READING TEA LEAVES

O'Brien has been so secretive about the quarterback race that he declined to release the passing statistics from the team's most recent scrimmage. Besides some numbers, it would have indicated who was getting the snaps.

Still, keep in mind that even last year's No. 3 overall NFL draft pick, Matt Ryan of Boston College, didn't make his first start for O'Brien at BC until the final regular-season game of his redshirt freshman year.

It would take a special player to beat out Evans and start a season opener for O'Brien as a freshman or redshirt freshman.

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