NC State’s profile may not fit that of a stereotypical quarterback factory, but somehow the Wolfpack conveyer belt has succintly been spewing out more noteworthy quarterbacks than any other school in the ACC as of late. In the past decade Phillip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon have dripped from the Wolfpack campus, like water from a rain cloud onto the scene.
The last time a heralded Florida transfer departed the Swamp after getting stuck in depth chart traffic behind an All-American dual threat system quarterback and made a splash landing elsewhere, he won the Heisman Trophy. Two Gainesville transfers have crossed over the ACC's borders, but only one is garnering hype and intrigue.
While Tyler Murphy will rejoin the offensive coordinator that recruited him to Florida at Boston College, Jacoby Brissett’s debut is creating a higher level of anticipation.
After struggling to gain traction unseating Florida’s underwhelming phenom, Jeff Driskel, Jacoby’s climb up NC State’s ladder was much quicker. Sitting behind a fellow freshman is hell for a quarterback. Unlike running back or offensive linemen, there are no platoons.
Sensing the futility of his situation at Florida, Brissett chose to make his own mark by leaving his home state for NC State in January of 2013.
There are a litany of transfers who are competing for starting reps across the nation from Alabama’s Jacob Coker (a Florida State transfer) Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer (Texas Tech), to Boston College’s Murphy (Florida), Jesse Scroggins at Arizona (USC), but none was knighted the starter as quickly as far in advance as Brissett.
Brissett was publicly anointed “The One” by head coach Dave Doeren quicker than a drunk couple eloping at a Vegas chapel.
By December of last year, Doeren was effusive in praising his transfer signal caller. Seventeen months after touching down in Raleigh, Brissett is ready to take his first meaningful snap as a full-time collegiate starter.
Driskel and Brissett both arrived at Florida as members of Will Muschamp's vaunted 2011 class, but it was Brissett who might as well have been a John Doe behind Driskel.
Brissett was Charlie Weis’s guy. He was also interested in being a dual-sport athlete playing hoops at Miami, Florida, Washington or Wisconsin.
Driskel enrolled immediately as the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the class days after he'd left opponents choking on his exhaust smoke by displaying his wheels during the Under Armour All-American Game.
Cutting an imposing 6-4, 225 pound figure, Brissett would have been an ideal wing scorer on the hardwood, however, he fell further behind the proliferating legend of Driskel in pursuit of a state championship in basketball.
Yet, Briskett, the No. 3 dual threat prospect in the same graduation class was more accomplished throwing the football.
During his senior season as the starter for defending state champion Dwyer High School, Briskett threw for nearly 2,500 yards, 32 touchdowns, one interception and sat most second halves to show mercy to opposing defenses.
Brissett’s tenure at Florida began tenuously as his mother Elicia Brown inveighed against Will Muschamp two days after Signing Day.
“I didn’t like the way Florida handled the process,” Brown told the Sun Sentinel. “I was never able to meet the head coach. All the other coaches took the time to come and meet me. Will never did. I never met him face to face. And I find that very disrespectful. I’m just hurt by the whole process.”
Instead, Brissett was hypnotized by the allure of becoming the next link in the Dwyer-Florida pipeline and joined three former high school teammates including bone-crushing safety Matt Elam, whom he’d known since the age of 6.
Driskel has never developed into the prospect that many believed was the heir apparent to Tim Tebow. Instead, he’s barely been better than John Brantley.
However, after Weis departed Gainesville to take the job at Kansas, Briskett felt like he’d bumped his head on the glass ceiling at Florida. While Driskel sputtered as the rusty fulcrum behind the SEC’s worst offense, Brissett plotted his escape like Andy Dufresne.
No matter how badly Driskel performed, the former prized recruit was given the benefit of the doubt leaving Brissett in purgatory.
“It wasn't right,” said Brissett, told CBS Sports’ Matt Moore about his perceived lack of opportunities during his final season at Florida. “In the saying that God don't like ugly, it came up to us in the Sugar Bowl when we couldn't throw to save our life.”
Brissett has never been one to mince words and since being granted his release, he’s let unvarnished truths fly from his lips.
“Just my competitiveness, I don't think it was matched with that other guy," Brissett added. "The willingness to put in that extra work to win.”
After plodding through the muck during a bittersweet 11-2 sophomore season, Brissett quickly bolted for his football haven at NC State, where the former Wisconsin defensive coordinator had just been named head coach.
Brissett has no plans on becoming the Wolfpack’s equivalent to Ronald Curry or Charlie Ward. Football is his prime focus and the world revolves around Brissett on Tobacco Road.
Unfortunately, the Wolfpack are a few recruiting cycles short of being an ACC contender. Doeren’s first campaign ended with a 3-9 debacle highlight by atrocious quarterback play by Pete Thomas.
The bar is set low, but don't tell that to anyone who's watched him fling spirals all spring.
Brissett’s still remains as much of a mystery as a J.J. Abrams series plot, but his 24-of-37, 365 yards passing and two aerial touchdowns ignited the chatter that the ACC’s second-best quarterback may reside in Raleigh.
Doeren anticipates Brissett being the CEO of his offense, but if he’s the Chief Executive Officer, the Wolfpack offense is Malaysian Airlines.
The pressure may fold Driskel, but poise has always been a trademark of Brissett.
Brissett got lost in the fold at Florida, but he may emerge from the wilderness soon as the leader of the Wolfpack and a legend in his own right.