The Wolfpacker

Sept.-Oct. 2022

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 23 of 51

24 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY ETHAN MCDOWELL hen Payton Wilson ran onto NC State's practice field Aug. 3, he was holding back tears. Wilson's jour- ney back to the field for his redshirt ju- nior season with the Wolfpack was lengthy, full of hard work and gratitude, something his linebacker peers, and most of the defense, can relate to. A preseason All-ACC pick, Wilson ended up missing most of the 2021 cam- paign with a shoulder injury. He's back now, though, 100 percent healthy. Along- side a pair of All-ACC linebackers — su- per senior Isaiah Moore and fourth-year junior Drake Thomas — Wilson is ready to make plays on Saturdays once again. "I do love this game," he said after his first practice back. "I've been playing this game since I was 5 years old, and I put my whole heart into it. Every day I go out there, I practice as hard as I can. So, to be back out there, it means the world to me." Head coach Dave Doeren saw those emotions from his linebackers and the rest of the team after the Pack's first pre- season practice session. W Power Trio After An Injury-Plagued 2021 Campaign, NC State's Veteran Linebacker Corps Eagerly Awaits Its Final Season Together Payton Wilson was a first-team All-ACC choice after leading the conference in tackles per game (10.8) in 2020, but he played in only two games last year due to a shoulder injury. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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