Jordan Houston has spent three seasons at NC State, and his production has actually declined in each passing year. That would not seem to be encouraging.
Yet, the Wolfpack believes he is ready to take a huge leap forward.
In the recent spring game, Houston hit the inside gaps at full speed, bounced out wide when the lanes were dirty, and deftly snuck through the line of scrimmage for pass routes into the flats when the opportunity presented itself.
In short, Houston was a real weapon, and people around him, both his teammates and his coaches, noticed.
The excitement stems from Houston never quitting on his team or himself.
"I am really proud of him," NC State head coach Dave Doeren said. "I think he showed great character."
Houston never wavered during his first three seasons as Zonovan Knight, and Ricky Person Jr. handled the bulk of the workload at running back. The tandem combined for around four thousand rushing yards in their college careers.
Knight elected to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft. At the same time, Person decided not to use a potential fifth season of eligibility he had been given due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Doeren thinks that Houston has used the last three years wisely.
"I think he maximized his role while [Knight and Person] were here," Doeren said. He continued to work and earn our trust, and we completely trust him. We are excited for him. It is a great moment."
One thing that has excited his teammates is Houston's receiving ability. His skill set is perfect for flaring out when the pass protection is stable, and he can drift outside when the NC State receivers work deep.
The Pack wants to have an offensive identity that takes what the defense gives, and Houston can be an effective force when drifting to the flats.
"If [the defense] is dropping eight or bailing, then we have got to be able to have that threat to dump it into the flat and let those guys get some yards after the catch." NC State quarterback Devin Leary said. "[It] really is just being able to take what the defense gives and let all the play makers do what they do."
And it appears that Houston will be on the field in 2022, doing what he does.
"To me, it is a great lesson," Doeren said. "My hat is off to Jordan for having that resiliency and staying persistent."
Twitter: Follow @RobMcLamb for updates on NC State Athletics!