As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Compared to his cohort in the Wolfpack secondary, David Amerson, you don’t really hear a ton of hype about Earl Wolff. And yet, there’s a pretty compelling case to be made that the senior mattered a whole lot more to NC State’s success than Amerson did. While State’s cornerbacks were roasted in coverage all year (finished 85th in passing yards allowed per game), it was Wolff that had to perform mop-up duty in the form of stopping would-be touchdowns. So while his interceptions (two) and defended passes (nine) may not stand out as some sort of feat of natural ability, tackles tell plenty of the story. Wolff had 119 in just 12 games — 37 over the final three games. Five separate times, he had 10 or more stops in a game. At the next level, he certainly gets dinged for being a bit on the smaller side (5’11”, 206 pounds), but that ignores his true skill level. In his senior year, he showed real growth while functioning as the defense’s “quarterback,” making smart reads from the secondary and displaying a quickness (4.43 40-yard dash time) that’s tough to come by anywhere in this draft. He may not go ’till the second or third day, but whoever drafts Wolff will be gaining one hell of a safety.