Tom O'Brien talks running backs

One of the biggest depth chart surprises this week came from NC State, where redshirt freshman Dean Haynes was listed as the starter at halfback for the Western Carolina game and true freshman Mustafa Greene was listed as No. 2.

Until about two weeks ago, Haynes was a safety, but and he and Greene rose above the most experienced players -- Curtis Underwood and James Washington -- in summer camp.

O'Brien said he started toying with the idea of moving Haynes to offense last year, when Haynes played quarterback and running back on the scout team.

"He showed what was very impressive doing those things," O'Brien said. "Certainly our main focus after last year was the secondary. We started him out over there. There was a time in spring practice when I contemplated doing it, but I thought the first thing we had to do was make sure we shored up the secondary before we shored up our running back because we had some options there."

After the third scrimmage this summer, O'Brien said he realized his options in the secondary were "much brighter," but he still wasn't satisfied with the direction the running backs were headed. Haynes has had about two and a half weeks of practice as a running back, which O'Brien equated to 12 practices -- almost a whole spring camp.

"Certainly I'm going to be as excited as everybody else to see how he performs, but he's done an excellent job in the scrimmage opportunities we gave him and then practices to this point," O'Brien said.

Haynes was a quarterback and running back during his senior year at Northwest Whitfield County High School (Ga.), so it's not like he hasn't played the position before. He had 878 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns that season.

O'Brien said Greene will play on Saturday and Underwood is the third-string back.