Tabari Hines’ arrival at N.C. State could have been awkward.
Hines had the best game of his college football career for Wake Forest in a win over N.C. State in 2017. But like a diving catch in the corner of the end zone, the graduate transfer receiver has made the difficult seem routine.
“He’s a good guy,” Wolfpack junior cornerback Chris Ingram said. “He’s easy to get along with.”
How quickly Hines has been able to ingratiate himself to his new teammates, who could still be bitter about the Wake Forest game from two years ago, is notable. For the most part, his strategy has been not to talk about the game, which ultimately cost the Wolfpack a chance at the second double-digit win season in school history.
“I’ve really tried to stay from talking about it,” Hines said. “I don’t like when people talk about it. It really makes me uncomfortable sometimes.”
Hines, a slot receiver, had eight catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns, including what would be the game-deciding score in a 30-24 Wake Forest win on Nov. 18, 2017 in Winston-Salem.
It was Ingram, then a true freshman in his first college start, who was covering Hines most of the game.
“Actually, (we) are real good friends now, crazy part about it,” Hines said of Ingram.
Doeren says Hines is ‘hungry’
There’s definitely a built-in respect by the veteran N.C. State players for Hines, who spent an injury-shortened season at Oregon in 2018. Hines had a big game against the Wolfpack in 2016, too. He nine catches for 125 yards with a touchdown in a 33-16 N.C. State win in Raleigh.
“He came here to help us win games,” Ingram said. “He came here to improve the program, so we welcomed him with open arms.”
In three career games against N.C. State, Hines had 22 catches for 306 yards and four touchdowns. He had the same number of touchdown catches against other ACC teams in 21 games.
“I’m just happy that he’s on our team,” senior safety Jarius Morehead said. “He brings a lot to the table.”
At 5-10 and 185 pounds, Hines brings some speed and quickness to the slot position and he could provide a boost on special teams. Above all, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren likes Hines’ attitude.
“He’s hungry,” Doeren said. “I think he left Wake to go have this whatever season he thought he was going to have at Oregon (and) didn’t have it. He knows the clock’s ticking. You know, there’s urgency.”
From Wake Forest to Oregon to NC State
Hines graduated from Wake Forest in three years and then decided he needed “new scenery and a new experience.”
“I felt like I was hitting a wall (at Wake Forest),” said Hines, who was sharing the slot position with standout Greg Dortch. “I think it was time for me to explore different options.”
Hines transferred to Oregon before the 2018 season. A knee injury slowed him during preseason practice with the Ducks last year and he played in only four games. He finished with three catches for 32 yards and a touchdown in a blowout of Portland State. That was the only game in which he caught a pass last season.
Hines avoided more serious ligament damage but he needed surgery on his left knee. He was disappointed in how his lone season at Oregon worked out.
“As a kid growing up, that was one of the schools I dreamed about going to and I finally got a chance to there and I got hurt,” Hines said.
Under an NCAA rule change in 2018, Hines was able to play in four games and retain his eligibility. He left the Oregon program and received a medical redshirt for his fifth season. N.C. State had to replace slot receiver Jakobi Meyers, who left for the NFL after his redshirt junior season. Meyers set a single-season school record with 92 catches for 1,047 yards.
Sophomore Thayer Thomas and Hines are expected to be the primary options in the slot. Instead of having a big game against the Wolfpack, now Hines will have a chance to have a big game for them.