The Wolfpacker

July-August 2020 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 33 of 51

34 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY JUSTIN H. WILLIAMS n a signature muggy North Carolina afternoon in early Au- gust, NC State head coach Dave Doeren called walk-on punter Trenton Gill up to his office. As Gill recalls, the request came after a practice on the third or fourth day of fall camp in 2019, and the Hillsborough, N.C., native's mind began to race like a student that was just called to the principal's office. After all, he was in the midst of a fierce competition for the starting punter job that had gone on since spring camp. Negative thoughts were flooding through the same mind that had been trained to block them out on the field. Little did he or Doeren know at the time, but the decision that was about to be made would later lead to a historic season for the specialist. "I had no idea what he was going to tell me," Gill recalled. "When I sat down in his office he said, 'I just want to say congrats because you won the starting punter job, and we're also going to put you on scholarship.' I was blown away." Four months later, the redshirt sophomore had gone from walk-on status to third-team All-ACC honors with a league-best average of 47.6 yards per punt, a mark that was good for third nationally and broke the school's single-season record. According to Gill, the record-breaking season would have never happened had he not faced the challenge of competing for the starting job against a player on scholarship. "I basically stayed in the weight room every day during the summer," Gill said. "There's a little turf room in the Murphy Center we use and I was there from our 6 a.m. workout until 2 p.m. every day. "I'd do the workout, do the run, and then come in and catch balls from the jugs ma- chine with [wideouts] Emeka [Emezie] and Thayer [Thomas]. Then I'd catch a ton of snaps from our long snapper, Joe Shimko." Gill credits Worth Gregory, a former spe- cial teams quality control coach at NC State, for the inspiration that led to the dogged mentality he developed that offseason. Af- ter the two met when Gregory joined the Wolfpack staff in February 2019, the coach quickly became a mentor. "The moral of this story is that this dude just outworked everyone," Gregory said. "I will stand on the table and say I think he's the hardest worker on the team in general. "I don't think he's legitimately ever taken a day off. Even for away games, he would make sure he got an hour in on the jugs ma- chine before he even got on the bus." While the hard work undoubtedly paid dividends for Gill, teamwork also played an important part. "Joe Shimko is probably the fastest snap- per I've ever seen in college and probably O HARD WORKER Trenton Gill Went From Walk-On To An All-Conference Punter Through Tremendous Effort Gill averaged a league-best 47.6 yards per punt — which ranked third nationally and set the program's single-season record — in his first year as the Wolfpack's starting punter last fall. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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