The Wolfpacker

March-April 2022

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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26 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER resh off a 9-3 regular season that included a 6-2 mark in the ACC, NC State football was looking forward to ce- menting its status as a team to watch in 2022 when its San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl contest against UCLA was canceled because the Bruins pulled out on the day of the game. After being awarded the Holiday Bowl trophy, NC State is shifting its focus to the season ahead. Spring practices begin March 2, cul- minating with the annual spring game at 1 p.m. April 9. Already, there are some high expecta- tions on the Wolfpack. Mark Schlabach of ESPN had the Pack at No. 8 in his way-too-early top 25. "The Wolfpack were disappointed about not having the chance to complete just their second 10-win season in 116 years when the Holiday Bowl was can- celed because of COVID-19 issues for UCLA," he wrote. "But NC State will be in prime position to reach that milestone in 2022, and possibly win even more. "Quarterback Devin Leary, who threw for 3,433 yards with 35 touchdowns, is returning. [Left tackle Ikem] Ekwonu, a potential top-10 pick, will be difficult to replace, but the other four starting offensive linemen should return. With linebacker Payton Wilson, cornerback Derrek Pitts Jr. and safety Tanner Ingle already declaring their intentions to stay, the Wolfpack might bring back 14 of their top 15 tacklers. "NC State's non-conference sched- ule in 2022 (East Carolina, Charleston Southern, Texas Tech and UConn) is more than manageable." Stewart Mandel of The Athletic had NC State at No. 9 in his version of the 2022 too-early top 25. F Quarterback Devin Leary is coming off a season during which he threw for 3,433 yards with 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN JUST GETTING WARMED UP NC State Opens Spring Practice With High Expectations, Looking To Build On The Momentum Of A Strong 2021 Campaign

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