The Wolfpacker

March-April 2024

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 33 of 51

34 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY ETHAN MCDOWELL AND NOAH FLEISCHMAN inter workouts flew by, and spring football prac- tice is about to begin. NC State will be back on the field starting Feb. 27 with a team that looks quite a bit different than it did last year. After wrapping up its 2023 regular season with nine wins and plenty of momentum, the Wolfpack began retooling the roster. The pro- gram ended up securing 12 transfer portal com- mitments and signing one of the best recruiting classes of head coach Dave Doeren's tenure. New faces crowd the Murphy Center, and these incoming freshmen and transfers will compete for starting roles at nearly every position on both sides of the ball. The Pack lost linebacker Payton Wilson, center Dylan McMahon, cornerback Shyheim Battle and several other key contributors. In all, NC State needs to replace 11 starters from the 2023 season. Thanks to the recent roster turnover, the Wolfpack heads into the spring with some key questions to answer. How Is The Rotation Shaping Up At Linebacker? Wilson finished up his Wolfpack career with one of the best defensive seasons in program history. He was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and also took home the Butkus and Bednarik national awards. The graduate student rarely missed a play last fall before opt- ing out of the bowl game. When Wilson wasn't on the field, the Pack missed his playmaking presence, which often covered up issues elsewhere. Jaylon Scott also exhausted his eligibility last fall after start- ing every game of his senior season. Between Scott and Wil- son, NC State needs to replace 213 total tackles, 8 sacks and 9 broken-up passes. And in defensive coordinator Tony Gibson's 3-3-5 scheme, linebackers carry a lot of responsibility. Redshirt junior Caden Fordham and senior Devon Betty are back after splitting snaps at middle linebacker last year. They will likely compete for that spot this offseason, and Fordham has the ability to fill an outside role as well. After those two experienced upperclassmen, NC State needs players to step up into new roles. Redshirt freshmen Kamal Bonner and Kelvon McBride both received positive reviews from the staff last fall but did not see much game action. W SEASON OF CHANGE Roster Additions Have Given NC State A New Look This Spring

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