The Wolfpacker

Sept.-Oct. 2020

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 28 of 51

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020 ■ 29 BY JUSTIN H. WILLIAMS ntering the summer before his freshman year, Ikem Ekwonu was not thinking about play- ing time or even really football. Rather, he was looking forward to getting to work with NC State director of strength and conditioning Dantonio "Thun- der" Burnette. Considering he became the first true fresh- man to start for NC State at offensive tackle since Rob Crisp in 2010, the approach worked for the 6-4, 325-pounder from Charlotte. "The main focus I had was just getting my body and my mentality right," Ekwonu said. "I just wanted to get better physically, mentally and learn the game more. Playing time wasn't really on my mind." It wasn't until the first-year lineman became acquainted with the intensity of training at the college level that the competitiveness kicked in. "As fall camp started, I realized the po- sition I was in," Ekwonu said. "That just made me work even harder knowing that I would have an opportunity to get in. I think it pushed me." Nicknamed "Ickey" — after the "Ickey Shuffle" touchdown dance made popular by former Cincinnati Bengals fullback Elbert "Ickey" Woods — Ekwonu proved himself enough in his first fall camp to earn a spot in the rotation entering last year's campaign. E QUICK STUDY Left Tackle Ikem Ekwonu Wasted No Time Making An Impact At NC State When Ekwonu moved into the starting lineup at left tackle for game six last year, he became the first true freshman to start at offensive tackle since Rob Crisp in 2010. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS

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