The Wolfpacker

January 2022

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022 ■ 29 W Ekwonu earned the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy, becoming the first NC State offensive lineman to achieve the honor since Jim Ritcher in 1979, and is one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, given to college football's top lineman. PHOTO BY ETHAN HYMAN NEWS AND OBSERVER ESTABLISHING ESTABLISHING A LEGACY A LEGACY Offensive Tackle Ikem Ekwonu Is Having A Memorable Season BY MATT CARTER hen offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu was a senior in the fall of 2018 at Providence Day in Charlotte, his team traveled to West Stanly High in New Lon- don, N.C., for a game. It was only natural that NC State head coach Dave Doeren was there. The three-star Ekwonu was already committed to the Pack. He was not the most highly touted player on the field, however. He wasn't even the most well-regarded NCSU commit in the game; defensive tackle C.J. Clark from West Stanly was considered a four-star prospect. Ekwonu played in the shadow of several more high-profile teammates at Providence, including his own twin brother, Osita, a consensus four-star linebacker who would go on to sign with Notre Dame. Yet after watching Ikem Ekwonu in ac- tion, including seeing him lay a vicious hit on a defender making an interception re- turn, Doeren went back to his staff and said Ekwonu would be a day-one starter. Three years later, Ekwonu is living up to Doeren's premonition that he was a star in the making. He was named the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy win- ner, the first time an NC State offensive lineman achieved the honor since Jim Ritcher in 1979. Ritcher also won the Outland Trophy that sea- son, given to college football's top lineman.

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