N.C. State's offensive picture for 2018 took two surprising and major hits Friday when junior running back Nyheim Hines and junior offensive tackle Will Richardson announced their intention to enter the 2018 National Football League draft.
Both players made the 2017 All-Atlantic Coast Conference team, Hines earning a first-team spot at running back and third-team status as a return specialist. Richardson was second-team selection and didn't allow a quarterback sack or pressure in 11 games last season.
Hines, from Garner, led the Wolfpack and was fourth among ACC rushers with 1,112 yards on 197 carries this season. He also averaged 22.3 yards on 21 kickoff returns. The 5-foot-9, 197-pounder ends his N.C. State career with 1,416 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing in 258 attempts, with 933 yards and a touchdown receiving and with 2,168 yards and two scores on kickoff returns.
“I would like to thank the coaches for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play at my dream school,'' Hines said in a statement released by the school. “I appreciate everybody at N.C. State who has helped me along the way. Last, but not least, I want to thank Wolfpack Nation for always supporting me - even in high school - to help make my dream come true. NC State will always be a part of me wherever I am in life, and I will always be drawn back here."
The departure of Hines and graduation of Dakwa Nichols leaves N.C. State with just two running backs who logged carries in 2017. Reggie Gallaspy, who'll be a senior next fall, ranked second to Hines with 505 yards and seven touchdowns rushing on 117 carries, while walk-on Will Eason rushed twice for 13 yards in his only game appearance.
Hines' early exit could open the door for highly regarded incoming freshman running back Ricky Person, from Heritage High in Wake Forest. Person had 3,221 career rushing yards in high school, including 2,230 as as senior.
Richardson, from Burlington, has been a starter on N.C. State's offensive line the last three seasons. As a junior, he led a line that ranked third-best among Power 5 schools in sacks allowed with 13.
"I'm so thankful to all my coaches and the staff here at NC State who have helped me grow on and off the field," Richardson said. "I will always be proud that I was one of the original Band of Brothers and my teammates will be my brothers for life. I want to especially thank coach (Dave) Doeren and (offensive line) coach (Dwayne) Ledford for their support."
The 2018 NFL draft is scheduled April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas.
Staff writer Sammy Batten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3534.